A Song of You

Irene / Irene & Her Latin Jazz Band

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A Song of You Review

by William Ruhlmann

Irene, a daughter of Russian and Irish immigrants raised in Los Angeles, came to singing Brazilian music through a trip to the South Sea Islands. That's quite a cultural mix-up, so maybe it's not surprising that her vocal approach is so deliberate and matter of fact; she still seems to be a dutiful student of the form, not wanting to make any mistakes. She doesn't, but neither does she swing. In fact, although she makes a point of using the word "jazz" in the name of her backup band, this isn't jazz singing at all, or rather, it is only jazz in the very broad sense that categorizes nearly all non-rock/pop aimed at adults as "jazz." On the other hand, Irene's Latin Jazz Band does earn its name, even if it might be called "Her Bossa Nova Band" more accurately. Core members Marco Tulio (acoustic guitar) and Cristiano Novelli (drums/percussion) actually are Brazilian, as is pianist Rique Pantoja, called a "special guest" in the album's press release although he plays on 12 of the 14 tracks, and bassist Daniel Groisman is from Argentina. Together, they play samba and bossa nova arrangements with the appropriate feel, and do some authentic jazz soloing, along with reed player Scott Martin. The selections include covers of Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, plus some Latinized versions of Gershwin and Porter show tunes and a few adequate originals. Irene makes a pleasant and unassuming frontwoman, able to switch languages easily and keep up with her musicians, even if she never seems to relax with music that should be relaxing. This is the second self-released album by an artist likely to be encountered in Los Angeles clubs or at vacation spots, where listeners can pick up her CDs as souvenirs of an enjoyable night out, and for that they should satisfy. This isn't Getz/Gilberto, but it's not bad.

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