I must confess, I have never heard of Cinzia Spata. While I have been broadening my horizons with respect to international talent lately, and Italy has been a source of some fine musicians, vocalists, jazz vocalists have not been a major find. Until now that is! Cinzia Spata's voice is beyond my writing capability to describe here. On her KOINÃ records release, Into the Moment, I discovered that she is a jazz vocalist extraordinaire.
The opening track is a piece by Keith Jarrett entitled "Questar" and for a moment, I was wondering what was a vocalist going to do with a Keith Jarrett composition, hopefully not put lyrics to it. Spata instead contributed her masterful voice to the composition as if it were just another instrument, with a part written to harmonize with the other instruments. This is just what she does, takes a lead position and contributes vocalizations that enhance the entire tune.
As the CD tracks spin off, I am finding myself engaging the vocal stylings of Cinzia Spata with the enthusiasm of a gold miner who has stumbled on a sizeable nugget. The subtle phrasing, dynamic range, technical prowess and deep sense of artistry is abundant in this work by Spata. While her rendition of "My Favorite Things" would not be at the top of my list, that track is dwarfed by her command of note and technique in the immensely complex "Carlos". The track starts out with a motif that is joined shortly by Spata's voice and then takes off. Spata is vocalizing with the dynamics of a master trumpet player. But that is just the beginning, she stays in there harmonizing and trading licks with the base player, mimicking the tones of the trumpet, note for note. Then she takes on her solo and I am drawn to listen intently to see just how far she is going to take this. I find out that the sky is the limit. She trills, and shrieks her notes with a control I have never heard come from a vocalist in any genre. Tight runs, with blinding speed and surgical control. It is mesmerizing and fun! If I were seeing this for the first time live, I still wouldn't believe my ears.
Spata is a master of the voice as an instrument. I must admit, after this track, the rest of the CD seemed pedestrian. However, it is not. Cinzia Spata can tackle any jazz melody with ease. The accent that comes through belies English as her second (perhaps even third) language, but in some cases, as in the case of "Tea for Two" and "East of the Sun (West of the Moon)" her voice is almost naive in the way she expresses the melody.
When you discover a treasure like Cinzia Spata, you want to share with everyone. However, not everyone will appreciate the technical excellence of her voice as an instrument as in the cut "Carlos". If you do not, then you will surely appreciate the beauty and sophistication with which Spata executes the other cuts on this very good vocal jazz CD, Into the Moment.