Greta Matassa, The Smiling Hour – Origin Records

by | Sep 17, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Greta Matassa, The Smiling Hour – Origin Records 82484, 50:54 *****:

(Greta Matassa, vocals; Darin Clendenin, piano; Clipper Anderson, bass; Mark Ivester, drums/percussion; Susan Pascal, vibes; Mark Taylor, alto sax)

We get many female jazz vocal albums sent in for review. Most don’t make the cut, so when I review one it has to be rather special.  This one is special. Don’t know how I missed Ms. Matassa all this time – she’s appeared on five previous Origin CDs.  I knew she was big in the Seattle area, but hadn’t heard a CD. This is a voice with real personality, range, control, and good humor.  It’s a package that features a lot more than just singing in tune and in rhythm (which a large number of female vocalists don’t seem to have down).

Greta’s choices of tunes is superb; there are contributions from Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, Jule Styne, Pat Metheny, and one of my favorite Brazilian tunes, Estate, by Bruno Martino.  It must be one of her favorites too – it’s be far the longest track on the CD. The Ellington selection is a vocal version of his Reminiscing in Tempo, with original lyrics by Mel Torme and featuring vibist Susan Pascal. Greta Matassa’s voice is distinctive, with great individuality. She often gets an instrumental timbre like a jazz horn – similar to what Billie Holiday did, but sounding nothing like Holiday. Most enjoyable jazz vocal album I’ve heard in some time!

TrackList: The Smiling Hour, If I Could You Know I Would, Dance Only With Me, It’s Delovely, Estate, I Get Along Without You Very Well, Indian Summer, Reminiscing in Tempo, Too Close for Comfort, The Solitary Moon.

– John Henry


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