Caterina Valente

Girl Talk

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This isn't a jazz album even though it was released by a top jazz label, Nagel-Heyer. Caterina Valente more than 45 years ago swept America with such pop hits as "I Love Paris" and perhaps the most exciting vocal version of "Maleguena," which became a hit in many parts of the world. In the year 2000, she joined classical harpist Catherine Michel for a mix of Brazilian and European songs, American standards, and classical music. Fluent in 12 languages, Valente recites, rather than sings, in English, Italian, and French an ardent "Sonata in C Minor (The Most Beautiful Sea)" with some of the loveliest harp playing on the CD. But not is all serious and somber. Once more in French, there's the cute, perky "Papa N'as Pas Voulu" which seques into a swinging blues. To show that she has lost little of her power and none of her phrasing and still keeps the pitch, Valente does "With a Song in My Heart" a cappella, singing a duet with herself. Each line of lyrics is followed by the same line done scat. On some tracks, Valente's voice becomes another instrument complimenting Michel's harp with her wordless vocalizing, sometimes dubbed in as background vocals. This technique culminates in an exciting interpretation of Maurice Ravel's "Bolero," as the tension builds from the familiar soft beginning culminating at the end in a crescendo of voice and harp that become one at the end of this classical gem. As stated at the outset, this is not jazz at all. But for those who appreciate performances by consummate artists, this is a fine album to have.

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