Drummer Lenny White, a legend in his own right, sets
things in motion for a legend to be born. “I’m always looking for new
artists who have knowledge and respect of tradition but free spirited
enough not to look at me crazy when I ask them to change it,” he says of
his discovery. Introducing Letizia Gambi (Jando Music, 2012) is
the U.S. debut of an Italian-born songstress and student of White.
Among the plethora of musicians who help make this debut recording work
are several jazz heavyweights, including White, bassist Ron Carter,
pianist Patrice Rushen, saxophonist Gato Barbieri, pianist Gil Goldstein
and trumpeter Wallace Roney. Chick Corea, White’s partner with Return to
Forever, also makes an appearance.
Gambi’s rich, earthy voice soothes on the ballad, “Secret Tears (Una
Furtiva Lagrima),” an aria from the Italian opera L’eslir d’amore. She’s
accompanied by White, Max Ionata on soprano sax, Antonio Farao on piano
and Dario Rosciglione on bass. Though it’s from an opera, this
arrangement is old-school jazz.
Rushen, cellist Jisoo Ook, Hector Del Curto on bandoneon, two background
vocalists and a five-piece string section step in for the Italian
classic, “O Sole Mio.” This slow, tranquil arrangement brings out the
romantic in Gambi. Nick Moroch brings some nice guitar fills.
“The Love of Your Life,” one of three original songs co-written by Gambi
and White, features the strings, Moroch, Goldstein, Del Curto and
bassist Dave Finch. Gambi pours plenty of emotion into this one.
White has made a fine discovery. Gambi’s voice, combined with the
selection of music and performance of the musicians make this a fabulous