Jenna Mammina

Under the Influence

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Mammina is a singer who is being portrayed as a jazz singer but is much closer to pop, and her repertoire and style reflects this. She has a tiny, thinnish, high-pitched voice with a limited range, and uses marginal instrumental complement, the biggest contributions coming from pianist/organist Matt Rollings and guitarist Andre Bush. The tone for this CD is set in the first three selections, a coy, cloying light funk take of Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives," James Taylor's pop ballad "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," and the Dr. John/Doc Pomus light swing blues refrain of "Pictures & Paintings." These tunes clearly show Mammina as a Joni Mitchell/Rickie Lee Jones wannabe. The Led Zeppelin tune "I'm Gonna Crawl" is a slow, bluesy, organ-informed number. Legit show tunes include the fairy tale-styled piano-vocal ballad "Some Other Time," torch song "The Second Star o the Right," and good swinging seven string guitar from Robin Lewis during the best cut "When I Take My Sugar to Tea." Mammina does two Abbey Lincoln tunes, the light ticktock funk with ghostly background vocals on "Secret World" aka "The Music Is the Magic," and a stealth, slight samba treatment of "Throw It Away," minus Lincoln's deeply wrought soul. With Tin Hat Trio accordionist Rob Burger and Bush, Mammina sings her original and revelatory composition "Contradictions" and her straight folk tune "Take Back the Night." Proof that she needs to work harder on classic jazz melodies crops up as she fumbles the ball on "My One & Only Love," missing the original notes and pushing the otherwise well-written string parts into the basement. The music world has more than enough pop singers and too few authentic jazz songbirds. While this CD shows a glimmer of promise, Mammina's voice is difficult to listen to, but perhaps as she matures she'll be a richer, more focused singer that chooses better songs.

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