Release Date: 10/21/22
On her ZOHO debut,, Vanessa Racci revisits songs by Italians and Italian-Americans who left their mark on jazz, from Nick LaRocca to Chick Corea.
Italians have been a force in jazz almost since the music was born. The backbone of the first recorded jazz group, the Original Dixieland Jass Band, was cornetist and trumpeter Dominick (Nick) LaRocca, the New Orleans-born son of Sicilian immigrants. In 1917, the members wrote 'Tiger Rag,' a perfect crystallization of the freewheeling thrill of early jazz. Ever since then, Italy has given jazz one influential figure after another: Joe Venuti, Louis Prima, Morgana King, Lennie Tristano, Bucky Pizzarelli, Chick Corea, Stefano di Battista, and many more.
Jazz singer Vanessa Racci is an ambassador for that heritage. Vanessa grew up in Westchester County amid an Italian-American family that steeped her in Italian song, theater music, and jazz. Vanessa developed a vocal style drawn from all three; it combines a tart, brassy, catch-in-the-throat sound with Italianate ardor, dramatic flair, and swing.
On her ZOHO debut, Jazzy Italian, Vanessa revisits songs associated with many of the Italians and Italian-Americans who have left their mark on jazz. By her side are a pair of gifted and accomplished pianist/arrangers, Steven Feifke and Glafkos Kontemeniotis. Both men's creative horn writing and harmonic and metric alterations bring even century-old songs into the present.
'At the Jazz Band Ball' is another of Nick LaRocca and the Original Dixieland Jass Band's first set of compositions from 1917. Feifke's arrangement alternates between traditional and modern; Vanessa's slinky vocal intertwines with the bass trombone of Alex Jeun. Clarinetist Leon Roppolo, of Sicilian descent, cowrote the 1923 smash, 'Tin Roof Blues. In 1954, that tune formed the basis of the Jo Stafford hit 'Make Love to Me,' here given a Latin pulse. 'I love the fact that it was kind of ahead of its time in promoting female sex appeal and power,' says Vanessa.
A bump-and-grind beat spices up 'Coquette,' a 1928 Guy Lombardo hit, coauthored by his brother Carmen. -- James Gavin
|Run Time: 45 mins|
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