Vocalist Roseanna Vitro has had big ears when it comes to looking for material for her jazz record dates, investigating songwriters overlooked by others. This Randy Newman songbook is obviously a labor of love, interpreting the veteran composer's lyrics, whether sentimental or sardonic. Her band includes the seasoned rhythm team of pianist Mark Soskin (who also provided arrangements), bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tim Horner, along with the promising young violinist Sara Caswell (who often adds a sublime touch). The rich-voiced alto's rendition of "Sail Away" showcases Caswell to good effect. Vitro has a lot of fun with Newman's hilarious description of attending a pot party in "Mama Told Me Not to Come," with Caswell's whimsical licks complementing the leader's playful, outgoing vocal. The singer captures the essence of Newman's sardonic "Baltimore," though she transforms it with a brisk setting, adding guitarist Steve Cardenas. Vitro's dramatic interpretation of "In Germany Before the War" is also a high point. Jazz fans who grew up listening to Randy Newman will be particularly interested in Roseanna Vitro's novel approach to his music.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden