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Sandi Rossi: Never Let Me Go

Album Notes

For her first trip to the recording studio, Sandi Rossi decided to present a full spectrum of tunes in terms of both number and type. There are 19 selections, running the gamut from the oft-heard standards to neglected chestnuts, from the plaintive and poignant to the cute. While citing such jazz stylists as Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Mel Tormé, Ella Fitzgerald, and Mark Murphy as influences, her style is more a combination of Blossom Dearie and Lee Wiley, favoring the former a bit more than the latter. Even the upbeat tunes on this album are understated. And while not having a voice as muscular as Wiley's, the song selection and the translucent atmosphere in which they are delivered recall the craftsmanship of the Wiley voice. Rossi's diction is impeccable, her phrasing provocative, and her voice crystalline. She starts off a bit tentative on "Nice Work If You Can Get It," but by the time she gets to Cy Coleman's and Carolyn Leigh's "It Amazes Me," her phrasing and delivery become more confident. On "Never Let Me Go" and "His Eyes, Her Eyes," Rossi floats over the lyrics, creating an almost ethereal atmosphere. To make this kind of performance work, the singer and supporting cast must be completely in synch. Such is the case here. Tony Monte is the perfect accompanist to flatter Rossi's delicate phrasing. You know he's there, but just barely. Even when he solos, his lyrical playing is in tune with the plaintive, poignant mood of this album. No pounding or chordal excesses by Monte. He and guitarist Al Gafa were on the last session of arguably the finest balladeer of them all, Johnny Hartman. Tenor man Harry Allen is a veteran of many recording sessions, including nine of his own for Nagel-Heyer and Mastermix. His outstanding chops are prominently displayed on "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life" and on "A Sleepin' Bee" by playing a Zoot Sims sax behind Rossi's plaintive Blossom Dearie-like delivery of this Harold Arlen/Truman Capote melody. Listen to the way Allen and Monte interact on the lovely "Lilac Wine," a song not recorded nearly enough. Then there's Jeri Southern's signature tune "You'd Better Go Now," where Al Gafa strums discreetly behind Rossi. As she amply demonstrates on this, her first album, Rossi has the tools to be one of the most successful jazz singers on today's scene. ~ Dave Nathan


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