I'm very tempted to skip the formalities of a record review and just say "buy this disc." But since JazzReview.com has asked me for reviews
, here is my review:
Music writer/arranger/singer/pianist Nancy Marano
has been around the block a few times, and in the process has managed to make friends with a few influential people in the jazz world - Mort Fega, Annie Ross, George Shearing, Johnny Mandel, and Dave Brubeck, just to name a few. Her most recent effort is this CD, "You're Nearer"
, released by Holland-based Munich Records.
Marano is accompanied on this album by a first-class group of Dutch musicians under the direction of pianist Rob van Bavel, the result of a relationship between Marano and the director of the North Sea Jazz Festival that began a decade ago. The group includes two outstanding front-line brass, trombonist Ilja Reijngoud, and flugelhornist Angelo Verploegen. Most of the arranging for the album was done by Marano herself, and she often features herself singing tutti bebop lines with Reijngoud and Verploegen. Marano takes over the keyboard as solo accompanist for two ballads, "You're Nearer" and "Detour Ahead."
For this CD, Nancy Marano has chosen a superior set of songs by the cream of the songwriting crop. But her interpretations, particularly ballads, are so soulfully rendered as to almost make further attempts at songwriting seem obsolete. After Nancy's seamless blending of "You've Changed" and "This Masquerade is Over", what other song do you need to convey the sense of remorse and bittersweet loss when one falls out of love? A little heard gem, Peggy Lee's "The Shining Sea", and Bobby Troup's "The Meaning of the Blues" are also superb examples of Nancy's mastery of lyrics and ability to deliver them in an utterly transcendent fashion.
Still not convinced? Dave Brubeck enthusiastically heaped praise on Nancy's unique and relaxed interpretation of his classic "Summer Song." And when lyricist Roger Schore learned that Nancy wanted to record Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Zingaro", he fashioned a brand-new set of song lyrics for Nancy to record as well as a new title: "Portrait."
I'll end with my opening recommendation - buy this CD. And if anyone from Telarc or MaxJazz is reading this, Nancy Marano would make a superb addition to your jazz vocalist series'.