Letizia Gambi: Blue Monday

Letizia Gambi Blue MondayThis debut performance on record by Letizia Gambi will be remembered for a very, very long time. What is striking is that this marvellous release comes not even a month after that marvellous release, phiLOVEsophy Valentina Marino broke in the US. If you thought the Italians have invaded the US, you would be absolutely right. Both albums have been produced by masterful musicians from this continent: the former by the great bassist Cameron Brown and Blue Monday by the ineffable Lenny White. The drummer has a wonderful track record as a producer, having already made his mark with the iconic Acoustic Masters volumes one and two.

Letizia Gambi, like Marino, is born to be a musician. I would go as far as to hazard a guess that Gambi, like Marino has near-perfect pitch. Gambi, for her part has given evidence of sublime craftsmanship, harmonic inventiveness and melodic flair. The thrilling opening, ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ which melds the classic standard with Jackie Maclean’s ‘Dig” glued together by the Neapolitan chant inspired by the opera La Gatta Cenerentola, is a fusion that jump-starts the record. There is never a slack moment on this record. The Italian songs, from ‘Que Sera, Sera’ to ‘Sulo Pe’ Parlà’ and ‘Perchè Domani’and the fusillade of brilliantly-crafted English ones, Gambi sings with almost unbelievable intuition and dramatic intelligence. Songs like Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ are sung with gut-wrenching pain, while others are held in sensuous caress, like the profoundly beautiful ‘Skin to Skin’. Other highlights are songs – short stories told with just the right kind of ornamentation, and Gambi explores new shades of anguish and joy.

There is another reason why this album is ever so memorable. And that is, quite simply: Lenny White has produced it. White is a true master at musical production in the mould of classic producers such as Creed Taylor. Typically White will eschew grandiosity. Instead he brings his full talent to bear on natural feelings. He extracts nuanced performances from his musicians. There is enough evidence to suggest that he might have had an altogether easy time with Letizia Gambi. This is a vocalist blessed with a sultry contralto, and is born with a talent to adorn words with ethereally beautiful inflections. There is a fine use of dynamics and Gambi’s approach is also to elegantly execute vocals without frills; just deeply felt emotions complemented with lilting loveliness. What a way to seal the human heart.

Masterful performances are also turned in by some of the finest musicians in Jazz – Ron Carter is truly inspirational, pianists Donald Vega and Helen Sung adorn this album with much beauty as do Gil Goldstein, who also offers some beautiful arrangements – on ‘Que Sera, Sera’ and ‘When You Were Here’ but so does Lenny White, whose genius seems to pop up seemingly everywhere, including on superb arrangements that are all over this wonderful record.

Track List: Sweet Georgia Brown/Dig; True Love Remember Me (Recorda Me); Without You/Senz’e Te; Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be); Under the Moon; But Not for Me; Blue Monday; Back to Black; You’ll Say Tomorrow (Perchè Domani); When You Were Here; Skin to Skin; Sulo Pe’ Parlà; Perchè Domani.

Personnel: Letizia Gambi: vocals; Sam Williams: backing vocals (7); Helen Sung: piano (1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13); Donald Vega: piano (2, 3, 6); Pete Levin : keyboards (4); John Benitez: bass (1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10); Ron Carter: bass (2, 3, 6); Daryl Johns: bass (4, 11); Lenny White: drums (1 – 9, 11), percussion (11); Andrea Valentini: bass drum (1); Dave Stryker: guitar (2); Tom Guarana: guitar (4, 11); Nick Maroch: AC guitar (7, 10), guitar (12); Gil Goldstein: accordion (4, 5, 11); Hector Del Curto: bandoneon (8); Haley Niswanger: saxophone (4); Jisoo Ok: cello (7, 8, 9, 10, 13).

Label: ArtistShare
Release date: March 2016
Running time: 55:45
Buy album on: amazon

Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

More from author


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts


Featured Posts

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Bobby Paunetto, New York City and The Synthesis of Music

Bobby Paunetto was an unforgettable composer, arranger, musician and recording artist. Latin Jazz Network honors him on the tenth anniversary of his death (8.10.10). His...

Jazz Plaza 2020: Ancient to the Future

Chapter four of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana In recent months I found myself in profound reflection of the term...

Ray Martinez and the Forgotten Legacy of Jazz

Sometime in the very near future, several of the jazz world's best known writers and musicologists will meet in some obscure conclave to pool...

A Brief History of the Cuban Style Conjunto

1930: The Orquesta Típica is out and the Conjunto is in The year 1930 marked a turning point in the development of popular Cuban music....

Jazz Plaza 2020: Speaking in Tongues

Chapter three of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana Featured photo: Los Muñequitos de Matanzas at El Tablao in Havana, by Danilo...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more