BLUE MONDAY – The New Album
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Blue Monday. A 13-song collection reveals her coming more into her own style of interpreting jazz. We have originals written by Letizia and her producer Lenny White, new arrangements of Jazz standards like Joe Henderson’s “Recordame” which Lenny and Letizia have written lyrics for and titled it with it’s english translation "True Love, Remember Me” , "But Not for me" (inspired by Ahmad Jamal version) and an ingenious medley of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and Miles Davis’s “Dig” fused with a Neapolitan chant which is inspired by The Washerwoman’s song from the opera La Gatta Cenerentola by Roberto De Simone.
You'll find tributes to the great Lelio Luttazzi, Sophia Loren, an original dedicated to Pino Daniele and his "Sule pe parlà" cover, Amy Winehouse and Doris Day too!
Letizia is surrounded by incredible musicians: Ron Carter, Gil Goldstein, Helen Sung, Donald Vega, Dave Stryker, Lenny White, Pete Levin, John Benitez and more.
"She makes every story her own , we relive her Mediterranean soul and Jazz experience in each of the 13 stories she tells and we hang on every breath she takes. " Gil Goldstein
For Blue Monday producer Lenny White was infinitely more demanding this time around. The result speaks for itself. “I demanded her very best representation of this music. It’s a dedication you have when you understand that this is the highest language spoken on the planet. You don’t get that overnight but I’m very proud of her. “I see Letizia Gambi as a work in progress with potential to be an iconic international star.”
In the early 90’s I had the good fortune to start working with Lenny White. First, as a drummer on my recording for Blue Note Records, called “City of Dreams” and then on two projects where Lenny was both the drummer and the artistic director: Rachelle Ferrell’s album “First Instrument” and the groundbreaking “Manhattan Project” which featured Wayne Shorter, Stanley Clark and Michel Petrucciani. From that point on, my musical world was enriched and I felt elevated and transformed from the experiences.
In the case of Letizia Gambi, I’ve seen a similar transformation and growth for her in the two projects that she and Lenny have joined forces on , first “Introducing” and now “Blue Monday”. Letizia’s Neapolitan soul and spirit inhabits every breath and Lenny has created the most challenging and inventive environments for her, featuring a who’s who of musicians from the New York music scene. The fusion of styles creates a sparkling chemical reaction that transcends the individual elements that created it and a new musical entity emerges , that is Letizia Gambi.
The music selected for “Blue Monday” is drawn from both the Italian and jazz traditions plus original creations written by Letizia & Lenny. Starting straight out of the gate with an ingenious medley of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and Jackie McClean’s “Dig” fused with a Neapolitan chant which is inspired by The Washerwoman’s song from the opera La Gatta Cenerentola by Roberto De Simone. The combination is intoxicating, and Lenny and Letizia pull off some hip trading in the middle of this complex stylistic synthesis.
The next song is Joe Henderson’s “Recordame” which Lenny and Letizia have written lyrics for and titled it with it’s english translation “True Love, Remember Me”. A new character for this song appears, hinting at Brazilian but always anchored by jazz, particularly in the great solos by Ron Carter and Dave Stryker.
The tempo relaxes with “Without You” which is the first original and is dedicated to Pino Daniele, the great Neapolitan songwriter who died January 2015. His influence on the music of Naples will go on forever, just as the wind blows from the sea into every corner of that city. Ron Carter, Donald Vega and Lenny White are this song’s musical messengers and Letizia, through her lyrics recalls images of Daniele’s songs and those who know his music will deeply get them.
Next up is “Que Sera Sera” which is the freshest arrangement I’ve ever heard of that classic song. Lenny changed the form and created the hippest figures for myself on accordion and Halley Nilswanger on soprano saxophone who comments throughout Letizia’s lilting vocals, which transforms this song to a new level.
“Under the Moon”, an original, recalls a classic Italian love song, and Letizia finds the sweet spot on this track featuring a thoughtful and soulful piano solo by Helen Sung and the conversational bass of John Benitez.
The next song is “But Not for me” where Lenny has transported the classic Ahmad Jamal arrangement and Letizia has transformed his solo into a virtuosic vocal journey for herself, Ron Carter and Donald Vega who play and sing it totally as their own.
The title track “Blue Monday” has a quality that evokes the best in modern songwriting and could appear in a set of any of the best popular composers. Letizia’s lyrics speak of the connection of all people and that there is a common goal among us for good. “Forever starts today” as the change for good begins anew daily.
“Back to Black” is taken from the Amy Winehouse book and is given a modern tango conception with the addition of cello and Hector del Curto’s authentic bandoneon commentary. Letizia’s version is a combination of anger, passion and pathos.
A scorching ballad is “You’ll Say Tomorrow” written by the great Italian composer Lelio Luttazzi in 1959 with the title “Perchè Domani” and it was sung in the original version by none other than Sophia Loren. Letizia’s adaptation is the first English version ever recorded and exposes a true classic from the Italian repertoire and the unforgettable Lelio.
Another new creation in the ballad tradition follows “When You Were Here” where I get to flex my orchestration muscle and try to evoke the inspiring musicians like Morricone and Rota who have inspired all of us so much. No solos intervene as Letizia and Nick Moroch’s haunting guitar carry the story from beginning to end, and we watch it unfold like a film.
The tango spirit resurfaces with “Skin to Skin” with a contribution by Letizia’s mother who wrote the verse’s melody.The song pulses keeping the story moving forward and this time I am doing my best bandoneon impressions on the accordion along with Tom Guarna’s beautiful acoustic guitar and again Letizia is the sole sensual voice as we find our way to a soulful groove at the end.
The short and sweet version of “Sulo Pe’ Parlà” is a duet with Nick Moroch on acoustic guitar. They follow each other effortlessly to make this a sweet moment and a respite from the rich orchestrations that surround it in the program. This Pino Daniele song forms a matching set with the piano based setting of “Perchè Domani” which we heard earlier in the new English version. This time time it’s in Italian and again Helen Sung and Jisoo Ok supply the perfect accompaniment for this new classic version.
This is the second recording that Lenny and Letizia have done together and the collaboration just keeps getting stronger and yielding better and stronger results. I’ve had the pleasure of playing accordion and piano and contributing some string orchestrations to both projects. But at the center of each, is Letizia’s demonstrative or incredibly sensitive lyric style combined with clever and soulful arrangements, which draw upon both genres as well as a whole world of musical influence. She makes every story her own and we relive her mediterranean soul and jazz experience in each of the 13 stories she tells, and we hang on every breath she takes.
Gil Goldstein is a pianist and accordionist and has long performance histories with artists including Bobby McFerrin, Pat Martino, Jim Hall, and Billy Cobham, to name just a few. As an arranger, he worked closely with Gil Evans for 7 years in his band and became a his apprentice, asked by Quincy Jones to reconstructed his arrangements for a concert with Miles Davis. He has arranged and produced for so many leading jazz and pop artists, including Milton Nasciemento, Wallace Roney, Chris Botti, Paul Simon, and Esperanza Spalding. His work in this field has yielded 5 Grammy awards and 12 nominations.