Judy Rafat

Con Alma: A Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie

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This auspicious debut album by vocalist Judy Rafat is a loving tribute to Dizzy Gillespie who the singer met in 1986 and developed a lasting friendship with. Rafat proves herself a compelling stylist on 11 tunes written by Dizzy, ranging from "Manteca" to "Reverend 'G'." The latter, written in 1974, reveals a surprising (and impressive) debt to Susannah McCorkle, both in articulation and approach. Several of the numbers feature lyrics by Rafat, including "Lorraine," a piece the trumpeter penned in honor of his wife in 1959. The outstanding band includes trumpeter Claudio Roditi, Mike Longo or Kenny Baron on piano, bassist Rufus Reid, and Frank Wess and Paquito d'Rivera alternating on reeds. A seamless consistency belies the fact that the band recorded months before the vocals were added. Although "Olinga" goes on a bit too long and some of Rafat's lyrics may be a bit too reverential, there is plenty of good music throughout making this a very fine effort by a little-known talent.

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