Outstanding New Jazz Releases of 2010
December 23, 2010
Gabriele Tranchina A Song Of Love’s Color (Jazzheads) This, I wrote, “is a wonderful release that is sure to charm listeners with not only Gabriele Tranchina¡¦s lovely voice, but her wonderful expressiveness and the tight playing in support of her. This is a recording that easily lends itself to repeated listening”
Read more here.
Though female jazz vocalists tend to get lumped together, every once in a while, we get CD’s that have the degree of talent & vigor in their performances that elevates them far above the level of “just another lady jazz singer”…
Gabriele is certainly above the pack, & totally “international” in her appeal to your ears! It really doesn’t matter what language she sings in, her energy, inflection and pure joy in the singing of it shines through for you to groove on. The title track, for instance, “A Song of Love’s Color”, opens with a wonderful blending of voices that punctuates the 4:58 piece wonderfully…
for wonderful high-energy Latin flavors & shadings, you’ll certainly dig on “Samba de Uma Nota Só”…
beautiful rhythms that just won’t quit. It was “Sing a Song of Children”, with the sound of healing (through the lives of children, so artfully expressed by Gabriele) that captured my vote for favorite. I give this CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any jazzers who love the sound of vibrant female vocals. The “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97. Get more information at JAZZHEADS!
It appears that exacting pitch is not really important in the grander scheme of things, for Gabriele Tranchina’s singing. Although it seems likely that if she really wanted to this vocalist could nail the exacting pitch of the notes themselves with perfection, Tranchina eschews the exactitude of notation to scale impossible heights of emotion. In this respect she is like a storyteller who uses lyric passages to let tales of longing and other elusive emotions unfold with the songs she sings. As a vocalist Tranchina often coaxes her voice to stretch beyond its contralto comfort zone. This is no mean feat as there appears to be no strain at all. On the contrary, Tranchina never fails to surprise with the manner in which she is able to hold onto notes higher than her normal vocal range.
Another important feature of Gabriele Tranchina’s singing is that she is able to sing with stylish facility in French, Portuguese, Spanish and English as well as in her native German. On A Song of Love’s Color Tranchina even manages to navigate through a wonderful Sanskrit chant, “Asato Maa (Sat Chit Ananda).” This, of course, has everything to do with her Germanic roots-Sanskrit and German having the same linguistic origins. Nevertheless, the haunting rendition is memorable. Her version of “Today,” seemingly written almost exclusively in a diatonic mode is also quite exquisite as the song seems perfect for her method of intonation. And this is probably Gabriele Tranchina’s main vocal strength.
Through the velvety softness of her voice, Tranchina delivers lyrics with a deep sensitivity for the feeling of their underlying emotions. The song, “Duérmete Niño Bonito” is a perfect example. Here Tranchina displays emotion in equal measure whether she singing wordlessly or otherwise-in English or in another language. The dramaturge of the music is all in the manner of delivery. On “Voz” she turns wordless vocalizing into a fine art and in addition, displays exquisite interplay her band mates, especially with bassist, Santi DeBriano. The Panamanian-born, New York-based musician shows why he is so much in demand as an accompanist by other instrumentalists.
In his foray with Tranchina, DeBriano displays a wonderful sensitivity for the delicacy of the human voice as he goads the vocalist into realms of outstanding arabesques as well. The songs, “Solamente Pasion” and “Siehst Du Mich” are two of the finest examples on this record. On the latter, DeBriano undertakes an arco con brio arabesque of his own as he plots a brooding course throughout the song, ending in a single note that he holds down to establish the elemental pain of the character in the German poem. And this makes DeBriano the other star of the record.
However, it is clear from Tranchina’s performance that she is a vocalist of the highest order. Her style is not conventional. She may not ever sing an aria, but when she interprets the narrative of a song and gets in to character she has few peers. Anything new from her will be a welcome addition to the literature of vocal music.
Lucy Galliher, Gabriele Tranchina's CD Release Party at Feinstein's
Chanteuse Gabriele Tranchina celebrated her CD, A Song of Love’s Color, at Feinstein’s on June 13, 2010. With her in the band were Joe Tranchina, pianist and composer, Santi Debriano, bass, Renato Thoms, percussion and Grammy-award-winner Bobby Sanabria, drums. Gabriele came onstage in the same bright red dress that she wore on the cover of her CD, and had a sparkle in her eyes as she sang the opening number in French, “Chante Comme Si Tu Devais Mourir Demain,” (“Sing as if you would die tomorrow”). Although she is German-born, Gabriele has no trouble singing in a variety of languages; hence, this music might be categorized as “World Music,” although it is heavily influence by a Latin beat.
Gabriele’s husband, Joe Tranchina, wrote and arranged most of the music, including the title cut of the CD, “A Song of Love’s Color.” This is a pleasing-sounding bossa-nova, with heavy percussion and soulful bass. I felt there was good chemistry amongst the musicians ¡V there was no need for Joe to do much directing, and he was able to focus on playing some beautiful lines on the piano.
The arrangement of Jobim’s “Samba De Uma nota So” (“One Note Samba”) allowed the percussionists to stretch out their solos, while Gabriele sang the tune in half-time ¡V this is an interesting concept, as it made the song seem slow, even though the drumbeats filled the air.
Another Jobim composition, “Inutil Paisagem” (“If You Never Come to Me”), was a perfect feature for Gabriele’s voice, as she was able to evoke that beautiful clean tone that is unique to Brazilian singing. Santi added some soulful low notes on his 5-string bass, and proceeded to play an amazing virtuosic solo that elicited a big applause. Joe showed his own talent at the piano during the extended tag at the end.
They did several novelty numbers, “Sing a Song of Children,” which kids actually might enjoy and “Asato Maa (Sat Chit Ananda),” a poly-rhythmic, poly-continental yoga chant tribute. Gabriele not only sang on this one, but also scatted, rapped and made percussion-like sounds with her voice.
The climax of the evening was the tune “Solamente Pasion” (“Only Passion”), written by Joe and Bobby, with lyrics by Renato. With the stage lights decreased to a low blue, Joe began an intro on piano in a soft but serious manner. Dramatically, the lights went up and the tune progressed into a rousing mambo. It was fun to watch the call and response vocalizing between Gabriele, Bobby and Renato.
“Siehst Du Mich,” a German love poem was the encore, a fitting ending to a great show. Gabriele Tranchina has done well with her first CD. Let’s look forward to hearing more from her in the near future.
Chuck Vecoli, www.jazzreview.com
When I load a jazz vocal CD to listen to, I am looking for a CD that alters my mood; something to put me in a better state of mind, to soothe my soul. I look forward to a voice that is an instrument in and of itself, that blends with the accompaniment and yet stands out as the lead, the solo, the point of the CD. A Song of Love’s Color, the latest CD by Gabriele Tranchina did more than alter my mood, it was transcendent! Her voice is so pleasurable to listen to that it was entertaining from the first note! Gabriele possesses that rare gift of control of her instrument, and a capacity to express her jazz in a multi-lingual way that defines a performer as a world music proponent. Her handling of the compositions and especially the arrangements of her husband, Joe Vincent Tranchina, appeared effortless, and at the same time ageless.
The opening track, “Chante Comme Si Tu Devais Mourir Demain (sing as if you were to die tomorrow),” gives you the first clue that this is going to be a well-executed CD, both musically and vocally.
The title track had a Tania Maria sound to it. “A Song of Love’s Color,” written and arranged by Joe Vincent, has a contemporary sound to it, fluid and engaging. Joe’s piano work on this tune is blended with the rhythm section to carry forth the them of color. But the brightness and the true color comes from Gabriele’s voice. A pleasant combination of tempo and tones, with plenty of dynamic interplay between the musicians and the singer.
Gabriele shows her classic Latin jazz knowledge and command of language taking on Jobim’s “Samba De Uma Nota So.” Gabriele’s treatment of “One Note Samba” is different to say the least with her almost rap-like treatment of the vocal in the middle of the song. But overall her treatment is in the classic vein. And the band is tight throughout the delviery. Debriano, Thoms and Sanabria deliver the Latin groove that define this song, while Joe comps for his wife leaving plenty of room for her to express the fun of this song.
“Today” opens with a beautiful solo by Joe Vincent Tranchina. His composition is tender and soulful. Then out of the quiet emerges Gabriele, as the tempo and rhythm change, she adds her wonderful voice to the piece. The lyrics “and I know, a song I’ll be singing, a sweet melody of love upon my lips” says it all!
My personal favorite was Joe Vincent’s original composition, “Sing A Song Of Children.” Gabriele delivers this song with such sensitivity and tenderness, you hear the love that went into this composition. It is a hopeful and uplifting song, sung with joy and belief in the message. A song that carries a message for all children, young and old!
On “Inutil Paisagem,” Gabriele further demonstrates a command of the songbook of Jobim. It is another well executed piece. “Asato Maa (Sat Chit Ananda),” Tranchina puts this traditional Hindu prayer & chant to his music and Gabriele adds the spirit to the composition. An expressive piece that achieves its reverent state, without giving up the entertaining quality of the song. I especially enjoyed Debriano’s bass solo in this cut.
“Duermete Nino Bonito,” a traditional Spanish lullaby with English language and additional music provided by Joe Vincent stays with the theme of the CD and treats an international piece with the attention to its origins and yet makes it universally acceptable with the vocal treatment of Gabriele. Her rendering of the final bars are so passionate, they sound as if she was singing to her own loved one.
“Voz” is a playful piece by Joe Vincent. Gabriele plays along with the band to express this bouncing latin influenced piece. Debriano adds another bass solo worth paying attention to.
The first 1:30 of “Solamente Pasion” are a piano solo that is notable in itself, but when it takes on its groove, the piano solo is lost in the rhythmic groove laid down by the percussionists. The latin vocals covering the lyrics of Thoms and Sanabria provide a background for Gabriele to show yet another dimension of her Latin Jazz talent.
And just when you think you have heard the full range of Gabriele’s sensitivity when treating the lyrics in whatever language she sings, along comes “Seihst Du Mich,” a beautiful German poem put to music by Joe Vincent. The richness of Gabriele’s voice over the loving lyrics mingled with a soulful bass being bowed by Debriano all lead up to another one of Joe Vincent’s incredibly sensitive solos. This piece is a great way to close out what I find to be a totally entertaining CD.
Gabriele’s voice, stylings and multi-lingual command of jazz and the ballad are to be appreciated. A Song of Love’s Color is a brilliant presentation of a world of jazz and ballads capably delivered by a worldly voice and global talent that is worthy of attention. Gabriele Tranchina delivers a notable set of songs on this release and is entertaining from the first note until the last.
Album Of The Week: A Song Of Love’s Color, Gabriele Tranchina
The idea of “world music” has always seemed like a bit of a facade – all music comes from somewhere in the world; just because we encounter a different musical culture doesn’t place it in a vague and exotic category.
This idea highlights the differences between musical worlds and creates a mental block around artistic exchange between cultures. It distracts musicians and listeners from finding the similarities between musical traditions and ultimately it hinders the active sharing of artistic ideas and aesthetic concepts. If we get past the boxed-in notion of “world music” as a genre unto itself and start look at the beauty in the cultural tradition of each region’s traditional music, we find a wealth of inspiration and possibilities.
At that point, wonderful collaborations emerge, musical boundaries are stretched, and new ways of looking at music are discovered. This moves beyond the fluent exchange between music from the Americas and the Caribbean, reaching into Europe, Asia, Africa, and beyond. Lyrical, rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic combinations rise into the forefront that we’ve never imagined, sparking only creativity and goodwill. When musicians re-imagine the “world music” category and explore music of the world, true artistry can emerge. Vocalist Gabriele Tranchina gathers a group of top-notch musicians around this perspective on A Song of Love’s Color, producing a colorful set that fluidly brings together a variety of cultural traditions.
Exploring Musical Worlds With Original Compositions
The group explores a variety of different musical worlds with several original compositions, smartly arranged by the group. A thick collection of intertwining overdubbed vocal scat from Tranchina floats over a steady cha cha cha groove on “A Song Of Love’s Color,” leading into a dramatic English vocal with a tightly wrapped rhythm section accompaniment.
Pianist Joe Vincent Tranchina maintains the serious minor mood of the piece with airy lines that drift through the solo with a defined sense of melodic integrity. Santi Debriano’s bowed bass creates a a broad sonic foundation beneath Tranchina’s return to the main melody, which takes the vocalist into a series of defined scat lines. Vincent Tranchina takes his time creating a gripping unaccompanied introduction to “Solamente Pasion,” stretching the boundaries of strong themes with flowery embellishments. A strong clave and forceful abinico from drummer Bobby Sanabria sends the band storming into a memorable bass vamp, a catchy coro, and a full force Cuban descarga. Once the group settles into a driving son montuno, Tranchina opens into some nice pregones, sending the descarga into an exciting climax. Vincent Tranchina stretches broken chords across a vast expanse, setting the stage for Tranchina’s rubato vocal on “Today,” which gains a pleasant motion through a variety of rhythm section feels. Traces of the vocal melody peek through Vincent Trancina’s improvisation, evolving into an engaging statement as the pianist twists lines through swing, samba, and more.
As Tranchina returns for the vocal, the group pushes the song into a higher dynamic with improvised commentary from Vincent Tranchina. The rhythm section provides a strutting combination of Brazilian swing and funky groove behind Tranchina’s scatted melody on “Voz,” cleverly finding a locking point through common accents. Debriano flies into an impassion solo, storming through quick melodic runs and rhythmic figures, trading ideas with Vincent Tranchina’s understated piano response. After an extended scat and piano interlude, the group falls into a slow groove behind layers of overdubbed vocals, setting the stage for Tranchina’s well constructed scat solo. These pieces allow the group to explore Vincent Tranchina’s compositional voice, utilizing a variety of musical settings.
Lyrics From Creative Sources
Tranchina brings several worlds together by taking lyrics from creative sources and adding inventive musical accompaniment and arrangements. Talking drums assertively converse over a 6/8 groove on “Asato Maa (Sat Chit Ananda),” leading into Tranchina’s melodic interpretation of a traditional Hindu prayer.
Tranchina fills between pieces of the vocal with an inspired flair that combines the minor mood of the key center and the syncopated tension of the rhythmic foundation. Debriano establishes a steady bass line over a sparse percussion background as Tranchina offers a spoken English statement that explodes into a massive wave of thick vocals and explosive percussion fills.
A gentle piano vamp and sparse bass notes open the door for a German vocal on “Siehst Du Mich,” until Sanabria provides sensitive brush work, allowing Tranchina to broadly interpret the melody. Debriano imbues the song with a sense of delicate beauty, creating a touching bowed statement filled with emotional power. Vincent Tranchina follows with a carefully crafted improvisation built upon a light touch and resonating colors that flow smoothly back to the gripping vocal.
After a brief piano preview of the melody, Tranchina drifts into a heartfelt melody on “Duermete Mino Bonito,” gracefully moving between Spanish and English lyrics. Maintaining the mood, Debriano leaps into an introspective statement that dramatically weaves melodies through the rich chordal structure.
Vincent Tranchina briefly runs assertive themes over the bolero rhythm, before Tranchina stretches and twists the melody through smart and affecting variations. While each of the pieces draw their lyrics from unexpected sources, the group incorporates them into a Latin Jazz context with a seamless fluidity.
Staying Connected To Standard Repertoire
Tranchina and her group stay connected to standard repertoire from several styles with creative arrangements of several pieces. Sanabria establishes a rock solid samba groove underneath the rhythm section on “Chante Comme Si Tu Devais Mourir Demain” as Tranchina insightfully wraps a French lyric around the Brazilian structure.
After Tranchina skillfully works through the lengthy melody, Vincent Tranchina jumps into a lively improvisation that bounces around the rhythmic feel with vitality. Tranchina again finds a place over the addictive groove, layering thick harmonies as Sanabria and percussionist Renato Thoms build into a rhythmic frenzy. Vincent Tranchina enthusiastically pounds rhythmic chords over Sanabria’s racing samba rhythm on Jobim’s “Samba De Uma Nota So” while Tranchina moves through the familiar melody with character and style.
The group breaks down to only Sanabria and Thoms, giving the song a batucada setting while Tranchina speaks the lyrics rhythmically. As the group reaches the bridge, Sanabria and Thoms drop into a half time combination of reggae and funk while Tranchina raps, only to burst into the original tempo for the last bit of the melody. Vincent Tranchina improvises with a slow lyricism over an airy bossa nova on Jobim’s “Inutil Paisagem” until Tranchina enters with a reflective vocal that drifts over the rhythm section. Debriano moves into an inventive solo that both reflects the song’s melodic openness and pushes the song forward gently with an underlying rhythmic momentum.
Tranchina returns to the melody with liberal amounts of space, giving Vincent Tranchina the opportunity to improvise through the silence with a sensitive touch. These tracks provide the opportunity for Tranchina to show her respects to the standard repertoire, but to also flex her creative muscles with unique arrangements.
Breaking Out Of The “World Music” Box
Tranchina’s genre-crossing mixtures stretch our concept of individual musical traditions on A Song of Love’s Color, pushing things outside the “world music” box into an exploration of music of the world. Most of the album’s rhythmic content stays firmly planted in the Latin Jazz realm, with the arrangements more specifically focused upon Cuban and Brazilian genres.
Tranchina’s clever use of multiple languages starts exploring the grey area between stylistic specificity though, integrating lyrics in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Hindi, and German. The vocalist integrates this multitude of languages with ease, showing a skillful handle on vocal technique. The use of poems, lullabies, and more connect cultural traditions, giving the material some weight and integrity.
Smart arrangements from Vincent Tranchina and Sanabria fluidly marry these diverse cultures with Latin Jazz, creating comfortable and interesting musical contexts. Whether the arrangement combines a French text with a Brazilian samba or a Hindi poem with an Afro-Cuban 6/8, everything flows smoothly.
Consistent outstanding rhythm section work serves as the glue that holds the album together, ensuring musical excellence. Sanabria controls each stylistic shift with an addictive swing and a commanding presence while Debriano colors the music with rich sonic textures and interactive spontaneity.
The combination of these pieces results in a thought provoking musical mixture on A Song of Love’s Color, shifting our attention once again from music of the world into a whole new world of music.
Gabriele Tranchina – A Song of Love’s Color 4/3
O’s Notes: Gabriele is a truly a global vocalist raised in Europe and now based on the New York jazz scene. She sings with a wide array of influences in several languages and different styles. Yet Tranchina puts her own slant on things. This is the case on the Latin classic “Samba De Una Nova Só” and “Solamente Pasión” with its strong mambo beat. Gabriele swings on “Today” one of several strong tunes written by her husband and pianist Joe Vincent Tranchina. Santi Debriano (b) is also among the strong musicians on the CD adding great solos on “Inútil Paisagem” and “Asato Maa”. The album is more than a collage of different ideas; it is a balanced effort that is also well executed and enjoyable to listen to.