Lisa Ferraro – Serenading The Moon – Featuring Houston Person – Pranavasonic Universal PVS1724, 55:00 ****:
(Lisa Ferraro – vocals; Houston Person – tenor saxophone; John Di Martino – piano; James Chirillo – guitar; Ray Drummond – bass; Lewis Nash – drums)
Lisa Ferraro sometimes appears in discographies as Lisa Yvonne Ferraro but regardless of the designation, she is an affectingly expressive singer who clearly has an affinity with the Great American Songbook. When supported by the ever-resourceful tenor saxophonist Houston Person and an in the moment rhythm section, the result shows a clear sense of collaboration.
Acknowledged to have a vocal range of over four and a half octaves, while none of the performed selections require this vocal dexterity, nevertheless Ferraro delivers an effortless approach to these standards starting with “I Wished On The Moon”. Opening as a duet with pianist Di Martino she covers the ground easily, showing a deeply felt footing. Attracting Houston Person to this session cannot be under-estimated as he is one of the last of those deep-throat tenor sax exponents. He comes in with lovely obligatos on the ballad “Maybe You’ll Be There” and adds lustre to the tune. Duke Ellington and David Mack penned “Lucky So And So” and this rendition starts with a solid blues line and then swings into a down-home groove with Ferraro showing her chops. Then Person, along with guitarist Chirillo and pianist Di Martino dig deeply with some muscular playing. Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael got together to write “Skylark,” which has the following lyric: “faint as a will o’ the wisp,/crazy as a loon/sad as a gypsy serenading the moon”. Hence the title for this release. But more than that, Ferraro and guitarist Chirillo give the song an interpretation that resonates with virtuosity.
It’s always a good thing when a Frank Sinatra-identified song such as “How Little We Know“ swings in way that would not embarrass the master. That is what happens here, especially with Person’s textured tone in the background. In 1953 Sammy Cahn and Gene De Paul wrote “Teach Me Tonight” which in 1955 became a billboard hit for The De Castro Sisters. It has been covered by a plethora of jazz artists in both a vocal and instrument version from Blossom Dearie to Erroll Garner. In the album’s longest track, Ferraro makes the tune a blues anthem and the band gets down and dirty lead by Person’s tenor sax and some fine playing from both pianist John Di Martino and guitarist James Chirillo. The album closes with Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” done as a duet with guitarist James Chirillo and done in a languid tempo which may not have been the best choice.
TrackList: I Wished On The Moon; Everything I Love; Maybe You’ll Be There; Lucky So And So; Skylark; Love Walked In; Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado; How Little We Know; Teach Me Tonight; You’d Better Love Me; More Than You Know; Moon River