Greta Matassa

All This and Heaven Too: Live at Bake's Place

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Greta Matassa has a sexy voice. Something like June Christy or Carmen McRae waking up from a nap. It's this beckoning, warm approach that undoubtedly had much to do with her being voted the best jazz vocalist four times in Seattle's jazz magazine Earshot. Like many regional performers, Matassa has relied mostly on live performances to shape her career and has developed a growing fan base in her native Pacific Northwest. All This and Heaven Too, her first recording since 1994, showcases this live aesthetic during a performance at Bake's Place in Redmond, WA. An intimate collection of ballads and standards, one might expect this to be a sleepy affair, but Matassa's enthralling delivery begs you to stay awake. Centered around the rearranged version of the oft-overlooked Jimmy VanHeusen composition that is the title track, Matassa's voice simmers with life experience and is matched by a seasoned set of chops which she showcases on the scat intro to the number. Sparkling technique aside, it's her exquisite balladry which is the real discovery here. The opening track says it all with her smoky invocation of "Why Try to Change Me Now." "Ruby," a 1955 hit from the film Ruby Gentry, starts out cool and sweet with Matassa slowly raising the bar throughout to a sincere, R&B-inflected denouement. Backed tastefully by a full rhythm section including her collaborator pianist Randy Halberstadt, all involved seem intent on communicating with the audience, making for a very welcoming evening of music. Apparently, Matassa is known for her between-song banter and audience chemistry, so it's regrettable that this is not included here. Nonetheless, All This and Heaven Too serves as a perfect calling card to garner Matassa a more national audience.

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