For its first two dozen releases, Smalls established itself featuring dynamic, if unjustly overlooked, artists who are regulars on the New York City jazz scene. But trumpeter/flügelhornist Fabio Morgera's CD Need for Peace emphasizes vocals throughout much of the album, not always successfully. Morgera is an excellent instrumentalist and most of his compositions leave a lasting impression. But the vocal tracks, utilizing several different vocalists, are very uneven. The leader sings in a friendly manner in his bossa nova "Accanto a Te," scatting up a bit of a storm. But "East River" is a forgettable draggy ballad with weak lyrics and an indifferent vocal by Krystle Warren (with Miles Griffith, a regular with the late James Williams, providing a potent backing vocal). Griffith steals the show with his hip lyrics to Thelonious Monk's quirky "Friday the 13th," rechristened "Don't Even!" But Warren's overdone interpretation of the standard "Skylark" is unfortunate; she knows the tune, but she takes far too many liberties with it. Morgera's fellow countryman Antonio Barbagallo is featured on a pair of the leader's originals singing in Italian, though neither piece is remarkable. The band is supportive, especially Joe Ashlar, a fine pianist whose occasional use of synthesizer is puzzling, as it never fits the music.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden