Vanessa Racci is one of the most alluringly natural singers you probably haven’t heard of yet. But one you tune into the music on her sophomore recording you are not likely to forget what a musical wonder she is. Not only does she have an amazingly agile and utterly luminous voice, but her phrasing is posh and this makes her a perfect fit to front this little-big band which gets behind her artistry with pomp and circumstance. Furthermore, not only does Miss Racci sings with great facility in both English and Italian, but she uses the knowledge of her heritage to show what an important contribution Italian composers made to the library of Jazz and some of their works are featured [and brought to new glory on this album Jazzy Italian, a work of absolute beauty.
Making full use of her cultural roots, Miss Racci gives us a fabulous version of Volare which also receives a refreshing rhythmic fillip as it is rendered in the Latin-Jazz idiom. One suspects that this has something to do with the ingenuity of arranger and producer Steven Feifke. Miss Racci also does much to hold her own – even steal the show – with her ability to bring alive the passions of the lyric. Much of this may have to do with the fact that songs and their narratives seem to speak to her in a very special way. Her vocals on Moon River are achingly beautiful, especially in the profound delivery [of the lyric] inflamed by a luscious vibrato.
There is so much to cheer about that you want this music never to end. At some point it may strike the listener that Miss Racci calls to mind the wonder that is Barbra Streisand. The reason for this is that like the great diva, Miss Racci too has the ability to paint vivid pictures when she lets the narrative unfold in the spectacular manner of which the lyric rolls off her beckoning lips as if she wields a vocal paintbrush. For this reason the manner in which Miss Racci sings on this album she could be waxing eloquent on a Broadway stage right through this album [as la Streisand often does].
Once again one must make special mention of Mr Feifke as well as pianist and arranger Glafkos Kontemeniotis [who arranged four of the tracks on the album]. The charts that these two men have written embellish this music by bring to it luscious production values that serve to uplift the prodigious vocal gifts of Miss Racci. There is not a song that does not stand out from every musical point of view – from the long inventions of I’m a Fool to Want You to the seductive sculpting of phrases on Come Back Home With Me and on You’re My Everything by the late, great Chick Corea.
This may be Miss Racci’s time to shine, but one must also spare a thought for the accompanying instrumentalists who raise their game song after song. All of this makes Jazzy Italian a one-of-a-kind album in what has become a sea of proverbial commercial musical miasma.
Tracks – 1: Betcha I Getcha; 2: Volare; 3: At the Jazz Band Ball; 4: Moon River; 5: Coquette; 6: Make Love to Me; 7: I’m a Fool to Want You; 8: A Lifetime or Two; 9: A Sunday Kind of Love; 10: Come Back Home With Me; 11: September in the Rain; 12: You’re Everything; 13: At Last
Musicians – Vanessa Racci: vocals; Steven Feifke: piano and arranger [2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 – 13]; Glafkos Kontemeniotis: piano and arranger [1, 4, 6, 9]; Mark Lewandowski: bass; Charles Goold: drums; Sam Dillon: saxophone and flute; Mark Darche: trumpet and flugelhorn; Alex Jeun: trombone; Danny Conga Valdez: congas
Released – 2022
Label – ZOHO Music
Runtime – 47:13