Chiara Izzi – Motifs
Motifs is the impressive debut album of Italian jazz vocalist Chiara Izzi. No great surprise here, after all she was the winner of the Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition in 2011, awarded by no less an authority than Quincy Jones.
Working with a solid backing trio including pianist Andrea Rea, bassist Nicola Corso, and drummer Gino del Prete, she displays a real feel for a variety of styles. She romps breathlessly through the Arlen/Mercer standard “My Shining Hour.” She delivers a gorgeous heart felt ballad in “Travessia.” She doles out some fancy scatting in “El Caceralzo,” and puts her own delightfully accented stamp on that old chestnut “It Had to be You.”
Her work on Fabio de Andre’s “Il Pescatore,” a tune I was unfamiliar with, is one of the album’s many highlights, as is her treatment of Quincy Jones’ jumping “Stockholm Sweetin.’” The album ends with a fine version of Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Deep in a Dream.”
Julia Karosi – Hidden Roots
Hidden Roots is the sophomore effort of Hungarian songstress Julia Karosi. Unlike Chiara Izzi, Karosi focuses on a program of her own compositions and pieces by members of her band, interspersed with some traditional pieces. The album invites the listener outside of Hungry to sample a dynamic musical soundscape, one well worth his acquaintance. “Imhol Kerekedik,” arranged by drummer Bendeguz Varga for example, moves from the singer’s exotic vocalise to some reliable solo work from pianist Aron Talas.
The Karosi piece that gives the album its title follows a similar route with an ethnic melody, exotic vocalise, and some elegant solo work by the tenor sax of Tobias Meinhart. Meinhart also contributes some fine solo work on “Seed” (which has some English lyrics) and “Race Against Time,” which also gives bassist Adam Bogothy a chance to take center stage.
Karosi has a lovely voice and she uses her instrument with an infectious creative artistry. Her album and its musical choices suggest very clearly that Hungarian traditions are mine seams waiting for the knowing miner.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00GXKQW08,B00IW8SDL0]