It is always interesting to know where and when a recording career actually started. Singer Roseanna Vitro‘s first album was recorded in 1982 and is now available on CD for the first time (but who listens to CDs anymore when vinyl is still available and striving?). Roseanna has recorded several artist-based albums over the years, like the songs of Bill Evans, Randy Newman, Ray Charles, Clare Fischer, or Steve Allen. But hear her sing standards, albeit of the lesser known and fewer recorded variety on her first endeavor, is a pretty lively and robust experience. And having Kenny Barron accompany her on her first outing is fitting too. The pianist and his trio of the time, Buster Williams on bass and Ben Riley on drums, make her debut a still relevant opus today. I like her especially on the slower numbers like a gorgeously relaxed “You Go To My Head” where she excels with a capability of exuding warmth and finesse with singing just a single word like “smile”. Her subtle vibrato graces Duke Ellington‘s “Love You Madly”, which has a guest spot by Arnett Cobb, and there is an uplifting swing on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “This Happy Madness”, with added percussion from the wonderful Duduka da Fonseca. The wistful and bitterwseet Dave Frishberg tune “Listen Here” seems to be written just for her and there is more swing on “It Could Happen To You”.
Roseanna is very much in command on the distinct “Easy Street” and her rich and full interpretation of “Sometime Ago”, even though the definite version has been recorded by Carol Sloane some 10 years later (on “Sweet & Slow”, 1993), comes across full of confidence and style, augmented by the soulful touch of the ever so reliable Kenny Barron. I’ve never been a fan of scat singing, and thankfully she doesn’t overdo it here even though I think that she’s managing it pretty well.
Fast forward to our Covid present and the timely “Ever Since The World Ended”, the Mose Allison-penned title track of singer Lauren White‘s new disc. The half-hour set is an extremely entertaining set, with Lauren’s pure and simple approach being its most important aesthetic. On the title track, she joins forces with Dolores Scozzesi on an effervescent version of the tune. Quinn Johnson, her pianist for the past several albums, who also serves as arranger and producer, tames down the Bill Withers/Grover Washington Jr. classic “Just The Two Of Us” to a palpable longing. His solo playing actually equals that of the great Kenny Barron here. But it’s not all lost and gone in Lauren’s description of the current state we’re in: there is hope and optimism on the Bill Evans-penned “Remembering The Rain” which features beautiful guitar work of Grant Geissman, which she then follows with “Some Of That Sunshine”, soothing your soul with her sympathetic alto.
Perfectly describing the lockdown mode, the timeless chestnut “Alone Together” is equally fitting as is the swinging, rollicking “Take Love Easy”. Both show the wide spectrum of Lauren’s art, from scrutinizing to affirming. I think she sounds best on the album closer: on Jimmy Webb’s “Shattered”, she sums up the essence of her new album: “I’m broken but I’m laughin'”. Please also check out my reviews of her albums “Out Of The Past/Jazz & Noir” (2016) and her Irene Kral-inspired “Experiment” (2015).