Album Review: Vanessa Racci's JAZZY ITALIAN Does The Jazz And Italian Communities Proud

Recording artist and nightclub entertainer Vanessa Racci (and her team) have a hit on their hands.

By: Dec. 09, 2022
Album Review: Vanessa Racci's JAZZY ITALIAN Does The Jazz And Italian Communities Proud
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Album Review: Vanessa Racci's JAZZY ITALIAN Does The Jazz And Italian Communities Proud The new jazz album by Vanessa Racci, JAZZY ITALIAN is quite appropriately named. One may assume the raven-haired beauty is Italian because the cover art presents every image of the famed Italian actresses of legend, but even if the album art were an illustration rather than a photo, once the second track starts in and you hear Ms. Racci's Italian accent on "Volare" - well, let's just say the deal is definitely closed. And it's not just closed on the subject of the Italian part of the title, it also locks in the Jazzy part: this is, indeed, a true-blue album of jazz music. I'd like to be clever and say this in Italian, too, but my accent is terrible, so I'll have to stick with English: it's really good jazz music. Really. Really. Good.

Vanessa Racci has released an album of thirteen cuts in forty-seven sumptuous minutes of music - some standards that everyone will recognize, and some tunes penned by a husband and wife team named Molaskey & Pizzarelli, or by Racci herself. Every track on the album is delicious jazzy fun, all of them fantastically arranged by either Glafkos Kontemeniotis or album producer Steven Feifke, and all of them continuing the central theme of Italian jazz. This collection of music is all songs associated with famous musical Italians and Italian Americans: Guy Lombardo, Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima, Henry Mancini, Chick Corea, Mr. Pizzarelli... it's a fitting tribute that Vanessa Racci has created to her heritage and to the music that seems to live so resonantly within her, and so beautifully, too. Racci's heritage and the influence of the Italian artists honored here is germane to the album, but in this day of digital downloads and streaming platforms, not every listener may be taking the full album journey or reading liner notes, causing the potential loss of the theme, so the music itself has to be of the highest quality, and it has to tell the story.

The music here is equal to the task.

With her liquid voice laced with sass and swing, Vanessa Racci layers in emotion, technique, and nuance on every number, but not in any kind of a pattern. An artist looking to tell stories, Racci brings exciting new colors to a refreshing treatment by Kontemeniotis of "Moon River," sandwiching the ballad between a (mostly) straightforward "Jazz Band Ball" and character-laden strip-vibed "Coquette" - both arranged by Feifke to allow Vanessa opportunities to act, to play, and to play-act within both the original compositions and Feifke's arrangements. It's a clever segment of the album that teases the listener with what's to come. There is jazz vocalizing, dance rhythms, tenderness, and, oh, such drama. Drama? From an Italian singer? It can't be... but it is.

Vanessa Racci milks every ounce of emotion out of the torch song "I'm A Fool To Want You" but she does it all in an actor's space, never allowing the heartbreak to become any bigger than a pin spot on a singer's face during a concert. In a more colorful performance, the drama in Racci's own "Come Back Home With Me" starts in her lyrics, while the vocal performance slides back and forth between insistent and indifferent, seductive and aloof, until Feifke's arrangement and piano playing drive the story to a height that puts Vanessa right on top of the melodic line with her sultry and supple vocals (the cut is an album highlight, as is closing number "At Last" in a fabulous Feifke treatment). Kontemeniotis' arrangement of "Sunday Kind of Love" is wonderful languid and lazy, with all the musicians (particularly Glafkos on piano) supplying the kind of backup that, with Racci's spectacular vocals, conjures images of breezes carrying the scent of coffee into the air as fingertips softly touch under crisp, sun-kissed, white sheets.

And on the subject of piano playing, Misters Kontemeniotis and Feifke have really done right by their jazz diva, indeed, they have outdone themselves with their own musicianship, but, then, the entire band has stepped up to the plate here, as have the Mixer and Master of the album, David Darlington. It looks like Vanessa Racci isn't only a skilled musical storyteller - she is a woman who knows how to pick a team because every contribution made to JAZZY ITALIAN has put her artistry in the very best light possible, leaving her with one of the best albums this music lover has heard during this calendar year, an album that is definitely worth picking up and enjoying.

Vanessa Racci JAZZY ITALIAN is a 2022 release on the ZOHO label, and is available on all digital platforms or on the Vanessa Racci website HERE.

Vanessa Racci will play Chelsea Table + Stage tonight, December 9th, at 7 pm. For information and reservations visit the Chelsea Table + Stage website HERE. Vanessa's show A VERY VINTAGE CHRISTMAS will be live streamed. For the live stream intel and reservations visit THIS link.


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