This past spring, Roberta Gambarini embarked on a tour throughout Japan. A country that has fallen in love with the jazz vocalist from Turin, Italy. The tour was dedicated to Michiko Hirayama, Gambarini’s vocal teacher for 20 years. Hirayama was a legendary soprano in the world of classical music and beyond.
Before leaving for Japan, Gambarini recorded an album specifically for the tour. Entitled “Dedications”, the album was recorded at the request of Takao Ishizuka of All Art Promotions. Ishizuka was the promoter of the tour throughout Japan. Gambarini along with pianist Jeb Patton recorded 9 songs in the South Orange, New Jersey recording studio of John Lee, the prolific bassists, composer, arranger formerly with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra.
In a Facebook posting, here is what Gambarini had to say about the limited release of the album:
“I want to share with you the information about this new recording, that I made in duo with the amazing Jeb Patton and that will be out in a limited edition -only in Japan. The recording and the tour will be focusing on honoring three vocal Masters who are among my most beloved, and who provided ( and still do!) infinite inspiration and joy for my musical life: Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Carmen Mc Rae. This is a small tribute to the importance of their Art in my musical ( and personal! ) life. In this album, that we titled ‘Dedications’, we took some of the tunes that these vocal Giants made famous, and interpreted them in loving tribute, as a testimony of our never-ending gratitude. Thank you, Jeb Patton, for your artistry and sensibility!”
The album features songs such as Lady Be Good/How High The Moon, Misty, Willow Weep For Me, and Blame It On My Youth. Songs that have become infinitely associated with the three iconic jazz vocalists honored.
Jeb Patton is one of the most in-demand pianists in the jazz scene today. Having performed with Charles McPherson, The Jimmy Heath Big Band, The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni Big Band, The Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars, George Coleman, the Faddis/Hampton/Heath Sextet, James Moody, Jeremy Pelt, Lewis Nash, Antonio Hart, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Barbara Cook, Jessye Norman, Frank West, Dmitry Baevsky, Grant Stewart, Mike Karn, Joe Magnarelli, Lew Tabackin, Winard Harper, Diego Urcola, Willie Jones III, Marlene Verplank, as well as with his own trio.
On Friday, August 23rd, Roberta Gambarini will headline the Northwest Jazz Festival in Historic Lewiston, NY. Appearing with her will be Jeb Patton and John Lee. They will be joined also by the stellar drummer Willie Jones, III. This will be a rare appearance in the United States of the ensemble associated with the limited-edition release of a special album honoring three giants of female vocalists in jazz history.
Gambarini began performing in the north of Italy at age 17 and moved to the United States in 1998, having won a scholarship to attend an artist-in-residence program at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Two weeks after her arrival, she finished third in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition, just behind Teri Thornton and Jane Monheit. The honor gave her the confidence to move to New York, where she founded her own Groovin’ High label. Her first two releases on the label, Easy to Love and So In Love, both earned Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album, placing Gambarini in the company of Diana Krall and Nancy Wilson.
It promises to be a historic night for those in attendance at the festival as they are sure to draw upon “Dedications” in their concert performance. Front of stage tickets is available online through the festival web site and on Eventbrite. Visit www.lewistonjazz.com for more information.