Monday, January 30, 2012

Amy Cervini: Digging Me, Digging You

Amy Cervini (vocals)
Digging Me, Digging You (Anzic Records; 2012)

The first great record of 2012! As you may have noticed I don't write that much about vocalists. I really haven't been able to find great current vocalists (or even good) that compare to Stacey Kent and Claire Martin and Karrin Alysson. So this month my hyperbolic pretentiousness was slapped upside the head when I put Amy Cervini's latest, Digging Me, Digging You in the CD player.

I've really only heard Amy Cervini's music a couple of times but didn't pay close enough attention until now. And I have to say I've been missing out on an extremely inventive and dynamic performer. Her voice is soft but packs the punch. Her choice in repertoire is what really threw me for a loop. And will probably do the same for you. We're not talkin' bout the Great American or sultry Latin Songbooks anymore. This is an artist who is out to change the way we think about what can be done with song. She has covered Depeche Mode and The Cardigans of late. Both with startling success as far how the material turned out. But on her Digging Me, Digging You, Cervini dives into one of the more under appreciated jazz vocalists, the late Blossom Dearie.

Blossom Dearie was the hipsters choice and while she is worshiped within jazz circles I just don't think she gets enough credit outside like many of the other female legends do. Hopefully Cervini will change that. "Everything I Got Belongs To You" sets the stage for this session. It's got a jump swing feel but is masterfully soulful under Cervini's direction. It's an easy relaxing opening that pulls you in with some great wind-work by Anat and Avishai Cohen and then upbeat guitar from Jesse Lewis. The emotional and crisp touch of Cervini's vocals on Blossom Dearie, Herb Alpert penned, "I Like You, You're Nice" feels more full-bodied than the original but you can sense the comparisons and why this album can be become an important step in Cervini's wider recognition.

"My Attorney Bernie" is a full-throttle swing, drivin' by Bruce Barth (piano) and Matt Wilson (drums). Cervini's really belts it out which is a little different than the original which keeps things a little light but the two definite stand on there own. Many will be familiar with the playfulness of the "Doodlin' Song" and this might be were both Dearie and Cervini do become one. The punch I talked about earlier is on display here. This is one of those great jazz club songs that becomes infectious by the second verse. "Figure Eight" is where Cervini displays a panache for creativity. This piece is slowed down even more than the slower original. It allows the orchestra and vocalist to both find their space and both deliver with elegance and beauty.

Digging Me, Digging You is a brilliant work of vocal beauty and composition choices. I am very happy to have stumbled onto a new and exciting vocalist such as Amy Cervini. I think you will be too. Digging Me, Digging You will be on my list of top albums in twelve months. Guaranteed. Highly Recommended.

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