June 2008

Roberta Gambarini
June 28, 2005Star StageToronto
Report by David Fujino with Photo by Roger Humbert
Roberta Gambarini strode onto the stage. She's very striking, poised, and professional.

After a warm hello, she turned to local pianist Bill King and started counting off the first tune, "Devil May Care."

Roberta sings like an instrument. She clearly understands harmony and delivers a lyric with great timing. Her warm-timbred voice rises and swoops and hits the moments, and when she scats, she scats with class, and doesn't get corny.

Born in Torino, Italy, she grew up in a family that loved jazz. Her major influences come from Benny Carter, Thelonious Monk, and Billy Strayhorn, and she was glad to have enjoyed the friendship of Benny Carter in his last two or three years.

In this trio setting which consisted of John Burr on bass, Willie Jones III on drums, and Bill King on piano (subbing for an ailing Eric Gunnison), Roberta performed an evening of durable modern jazz standards.

"You Must Believe In Spring", "Deep Purple", and especially "Lush Life" — all 'deep' ballads, benefited from Gambarini's clear diction and an astute way with a lyric.

On tunes like "Lover Come Back to Me", and tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin's contentiously titled tune, "The JAMFs Are Coming", she picked up the tempo and sang about the stresses of love and modern life.

Roberta Gambarini delivered a forthright performance that had taste, sensitivity, and solid craft.

She sang the music.

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Roger Humbert
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