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Amy Cervini: Jazz Country

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Amy Cervini

Amy Cervini - Jazz CountryEvery aficionado knows that before there was jazz and blues there was the folk idiom. And folk music also begat the blues—and in some places—it also begat spirituals and much later, rock and roll. But now, Amy Cervini’s fine album Jazz Country suggests that the cocky dynamism and sometimes the melancholia of country also makes for fine transpositions into the realm of improvised jazz music, the way the founding fathers might have written in another state of mind and being. Ms. Cervini sings these fourteen songs with breathtaking beauty, her round shoulders rising and falling as the lyricism of the music falls upon them. She takes each line to heart and makes them her own as she enters into each story secretly, almost as if she were an interloper spying upon the characters as their internecine relationship plays out. As to the songs, when Ms. Cervini makes them her own, she succeeds in transporting the lyric and the listener to a place of exceeding beauty. Ensconced in such a place listener and singer spend time in a hypnotic trance as the music is permeates body and soul, and it seems that neither singer nor listener might ever recover from such a fabled entrapment.

Amy Cervini is a magnificent singer. She inhabits her music totally. In fact she is so inextricably a part of the music that she might just as well be the music of the writers and arrangers of her exquisite programme. Ms. Cervini can be mesmerising in a manner similar to that of a fabled character from that realm that is so beyond the everyday blues that her charm is almost too pure to endure. She puts on no pretense. There is a dramaturgy in her music, but it is completely unaffected. Her emotions are almost nude and there is absolutely nothing disingenuous about her delivery. Style being fortuitously absent from the proceedings, Ms. Cervini is one of those vocalists who owes much to that stripped down manner of singing that Blossom Dearie was famed for. However, Ms. Cervini is a singular voice equally adept at singing in English as well as in French, it seems—a language in which she is also a fine composer. Her rendition of “Je danse avec la neige” is exquisite; her diction is perfect and pure and based on this one performance it would seem certain that this will not be the last. It is performances such as this, as well her mesmerising performance on “Calling You” that make this album truly memorable.

Unforgettable also are the performances of bassist, Matt Aronoff guitarist and vocalist Jesse Lewis who is absolutely brilliant on “Song for the Mira.” There are also stellar performances by Anat Cohen on clarinet, by Marty Ehrlich on saxophone; the magnificent composer Nellie McKay also puts on a star turn on “Wallflower Lonely,” Nadje Noordhuis makes a fine appearance on “Drivin’ Cryin’ Missin’ You” and Gary Versace is just a superb on “Penguin Dance.” But the most beautiful performances are those with Ms. Cervini’s husband, Oded Lev-Ari. Something of absolutely ethereal beauty is channeled on “Go Gently to the Water” and “Penguin Dance”. With such exquisite music on Jazz Country and the earlier album Digging Me Digging You it will not be easy to wait for what is to come to next from this exceedingly talented artist.

Track List: Blue Moon; Wallflower Lonely; Song for the Mira; Frim Fram Sauce; I’m So Lonesome; Calling You; Go Gently to the Water; Penguin Dance; Smile; Je danse avec la neige; After the Goldrush; I Still Miss Someone; Before He Cheats; Drivin’ Cryin’ Missin’ You.

Personnel: Amy Cervini: voice, saxophone (2); Jesse Lewis: guitar, voice (6); Matt Aronoff: bass; Anat Cohen: clarinet (4, 10); Marty Ehrlich: saxophone (5); Oded Lev-Ari: piano (7, 8); Nellie McKay: voice, ukulele: (2); Nadje Noordhuis: trumpet (12); Gary Versace: accordion (8).

Label: Anzic Records | Release date: February 2014

Website: amicervini.com | Buy music on: amazon

About Amy Cervini

Amy Cervini is a jazz-honed singer who has the big ears and free spirit to reach far and wide for great material, whether it’s from Cole Porter or Leonard Cohen, Nellie McKay or Willie Nelson. February 2014 brought the release of the Toronto-bred, New York-based vocalist’s fourth solo album and second for Anzic Records: Jazz Country, which sees Cervini perform jazz, country, folk and pop songs – a mix she calls “North Americana” – with a sense of storytelling, melody and atmosphere to the fore. Jazz Country has already garnered a four-star review in DownBeat, which has also named her a Rising Star two years in a row in the magazine’s Critic’s Poll. Cervini’s latest release follows Digging Me, Digging You (January 2012), an homage to the vintage jazz pixie Blossom Dearie that DownBeat declared “a gem.” Prior to that were the albums Love Fool (2009) and Famous Blue (2007), which established Cervini as one of the more individual talents on the North American scene for her intrepid sense of song and pure-toned, ever-swinging vocalism. The New York Times has enthused over her as “a thoughtful and broad-minded jazz singer,” while the All Music Guide recommends her recordings for a “honest, self-assured and honey-dripping presence clearly heard.”

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