Songs of the Blue is jazz chanteuse Michelle Zangara’ s second full-length recording divulging into the smooth sounds of bluesy jazz stratospheres. A contemporary of the sleek voicing of Carmen McRae and the booming timbres of Patti Austen, Zangara synthesizes the jazz vocals of the past with the present amassing a rich hybrid that feels like silk on the listener’s ears.
The cool jazz vibrations of Jeremy Pelt’s trumpet cruising along “Under a Blanket of Blue” add an influx of fluid riffs as the bowing and refracting made by Zangara’s vocals plant knolls along the melody. The clarity in her notes has a pleasing sonorous, and the deep intonation in her voice preens a sultry lilt along the samba-clad “Never Let Me Go.” The rhythm section of pianist Bruce Barth and drum Charles Goold pump a catchy, shimmying beat into the track with a Latin tint.
The balmy atmospherics of “I’m in Love Again” coat Zangara’s vocals in a cape of romantic lure as the softly brushed strokes of Charles Goold’s drums and Ari Roland’s bass flint a candlelight glow. The lounging mood continues along into the balladry currents of “Stardust” featuring the graceful musings of Barth’s keys and an impromptu saxophone solo performed from Ned Goold. Roland’s bass pumps make indentations along “On the Street Where You Live” infusing a bebop cadence into the number as Goold’s trumpet flares intermittently around Zangara’s vocals.
The strutting gait of Zangara’s vocals through “Born to be Blue” ignite a soulful tinder in her timbres that resembles Carmen McRae, contrasting the upbeat tempo of “The Gentleman is a Dope” layered in vibrating drumbeats and bass pumps intercepted by flashes of trumpet toots performed by Dwayne Clemons. The sparse instrumentation of “Meaning of the Blues” partners the piano with Zangara’s vocals projecting an introspective look as she reflects, “Blue always made me think of summer / Cloudless summer skies so fresh and warm / Now the blues are more like winter / Winter skies with clouds about to storm / Blue is just the color of his lies.”
From the blues experienced in a break up to the ecstatic sensations of being in love represented in the cheerful phrases sewn into “He’s My Guy,” the album then slings into the mellow and sobering mood of “He’s Funny that Way.” The recording closes with the swinging beats of “I’m Hip” as the keys, drums and bass produce a frolicking lift in the rhythmic pattern.
Songs of the Blue embraces the elegance of bluesy jazz vocals while showcasing Zangara’s own distinct style. From sultry vixen to scorned lover, her vocals move through a gamut of expressions with each track emoting human vulnerabilities. Zangara shows human qualities in her vocal repertoire choosing songs that are sensitive to human emotions.
Michelle Zangara – vocals, Jeremy Pelt – producer/trumpet, Bruce Barth – piano, Ned Goold – saxophones, Dwayne Clemons – trumpet, Charles Goold – drums, and Ari Roland – bass
Under a Blanket of Blue, Never Let Me Go, I’m in Love Again, Stardust, On the Street Where You Live, Born to be Blue, The Gentleman is a Dope, Meaning of the Blues, He’s My Guy, He’s Funny that Way, I’m Hip