What a thrill it is to hear a first record from a vocalist who has a deep and abiding affection for the noble muse of music; of jazz in particular. In fact you will need no other excuse to rush out a grab a copy of this extraordinary disc of tasty selections, especially so when it features performances of such graceful ebullience. You need only sample You’re Everything and Devil and the Deep Blue Sea to what it is to be beguiled with the unleavened magic of the human voice. The fact that it is an Italian singer with the faintest of accents does not matter. Valentina Marino is so wonderful, her vocalastics so pure and fetching that it is easy to fall under her spell for at least an hour or so.
It seems hard to believe that Marino has existed in music for some year’s right under our noses and we must thank one of the finest musicians in jazz – the bassist Cameron Brown – for his timely discovery. Valentina Marino we soon learn, a very few bars into Love Came on Stealthy Fingers, is something of a phenomenon. She has a wonderful vocal breadth and executes this in a vast range of dynamics and vocal colouring, and that too with absolute rhythmic integrity demanded by even the most complex demands of jazz. Listen to Jimmy Rowles’ The Peacocks and you will hear exactly what I mean. Few songs demand handling of such vivid virtuoso passages as in the dramatic twists and turns of this piece. Marino handles this with aplomb.
Marino is a vocalist with a unique style and vision. She is ravishing in terms of sound and sensibility. She gives wonderful shape to songs upon which she casts her own special spotlight. Marino infuses lyrics with soulful power and brings them to life in the most colourful human way possible. The musical characters live and breathe in her vocalisations. You can almost feel her moist breath come through the speakers as Valentina Marino starts to sing. Textural transparencies resonate around the room as words leap and pirouette in balletic splendour. But there is more: there is no copying in sight here. Yes, you will recall Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, but nowhere will you find even a semblance of imitation in Marino’s vocals. She is an exceptional original.
The musicians also make their marks here in the manner of their support of this fine singer. Cameron Brown is his usual spectacular self with the gravitas of his contributions on the double bass. So are pianist Alberto Pibiri and the drummer Anthony Pinciotti. But I like also the masterful playing and the rich tonal colours of Max Zooi’s bass clarinet on the record, as well as his saxophone on David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which to my mind is also a courageous selection for a jazz record such as this. Best of all are the production values of the recording. Too often the wonders of the human voice are subject to so much digitisation that it sounds almost contrived. Valentina Marino, however, is heard in all her visceral splendour and this is also something to cheer about.
Track List: Love Came on Stealthy Fingers; You’re Everything; Go Through; I Want to Prove I Love You; Devil and the Deep Sea; The Peacocks; You; Space Oddity; In The Name of Love; Eu sei que voi te amar; In Cerca; Three Little Birds.
Personnel: Valentina Marino: voice, compositions (3 & 7), arrangements (1 & 6); Jay Azzolina: guitar; Alberto Pibiri: piano; Anthony Pinciotti: drums; Cameron Brown: bass; Max Zooi: bass clarinet sax and arrangement (8); co-arrangement s (3 & 6); Strings (3 & 8): Laura Giannini: violin; Laura Huey: viola; Molly Aronson: cello; Max Bezanson: bass; Zan Tetikovic: drums; Horns (8): Max Zooi; Matt Chalk; Cody Rowlands.
Release date: Spring 2015
Running time: 54:30
Buy music on: amazon, CD Baby and iTunes
About Valentina Marino
Vocalist, songwriter, arranger and lyricist Valentina Marino brings the sensitivity, sophistication and earthiness of her Mediterranean roots to cutting edge jazz. “Her depth of feeling…touches the hearts of all who hear her…Valentina Marino’s interpretation of Kenny Dorham’s “Blue Bossa” with Lawson’s lyric paints pictures of the flow of waters’ life that transcend the notion of singing into a numinous expression of authentic artistry” says Grammy nominee Janet Lawson. “A musician who loves to share the magic” – in the words of jazz vocalist Amy London; “Creative, spontaneous: a passionate vocalist with an enormous capacity to communicate with her audience”- Cameron Brown, bassist and band leader. Read more…