Roberta Gambarini: On the Sunny Side of the Street

If you feel jazz peaked around the time the Soviets launched Sputnik, you will like this singer, whose vocal chords still think that it's 1958. This song (which actually dates back to 1930) plays to Gambarini's strengths. She has a bright, upbeat tone that permeates her musical persona -- an attitude that is well suited for this paean to good weather and pleasant strolls. I can even believe that someone might break into scat singing in the middle of this performance -- which Gambarini does to fine effect. And certainly she can hit the notes, no matter how fast they come at her. Yes, it's all so retro, but '58 was a very good year.

May 10, 2008 · 0 comments


Jesse Davis: On the Sunny Side of the Street

Jesse Davis has not been as visible in this century as he was in the 1990s when he recorded seven CDs for Concord (this track is from the final one) and had a role in Robert Altman's film Kansas City. "On the Sunny Side of the Street," dedicated to Louis Armstrong, shows off his skills as both player and arranger, with the fine support of the Massimo Farao Trio, his touring group when in Italy at that time. A catchy riff launches this version, as a swaying, kind of delayed-reaction rhythmic pulse kicks in, reminiscent of Ahmad Jamal. Dall'omo's artful mallet work and Farao's sparse yet firm chords enhance the mood as Davis interprets the melody with his singing, lustrous tone, a laudable blend of Bird and Cannonball. As Davis solos, you are struck by his impeccable technique, great taste, and just the sheer virtuosic fluidity of his single-note lines. He can hold his own with any other altoist plying the hard-bop waters. Farao and Zunino acquit themselves well in their solos, with Farao exhibiting a ringing tone and confident two-handed attack, and Zunino sounding eerily like Paul Chambers. This track got a lot of airplay on jazz radio back in the day, and for good reason. Check it, and Davis, out.

April 08, 2008 · 0 comments


Louis Armstrong: On the Sunny Side of the Street

Recently a friend of ours lost her mother, a much-beloved, dyed-in-the-wool musician. At the funeral, our friend sang her mom's favorite song, concluding with a Satchmo-like "Oh, yeah" before losing it. This exceptional piece of courage and devotion made us realize we'd always misunderstood that song, associating it with jazz's most life-affirming artist. Yet listening again to Louis's rendition, we discover that of course he got it, singing: "I'm not afraid, baby. My rover crossed over." If we do make it to Heaven, surely that cat at the gate'll welcome us with an incandescent smile. And a gravelly "Oh, yeah."

December 05, 2007 · 0 comments


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