By Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs
CHIARA IZZI & KEVIN HAYS –“ACROSS THE SEA” Jando Music/Via Veneto Jazz
Chiara Izzi, vocals/composer; Kevin Hays, piano/voice/Rhodes/composer; Rob Jost, acoustic and electric bass/French horn; Greg Joseph, drums; Rogerio Boccato, percussion; Chris Potter, tenor & soprano saxophone; Grégoire Maret, harmonica; Nir Felder, electric & acoustic guitar; Omer Avital, oud.
I listen to so many CDs, so much music daily, that it takes something or someone very special to flag my attention. Chiara Izzi has a voice full of innocence and passion that immediately garnered my consideration. Opening with her self-penned “Circles of the Mind,” (that perhaps gives us a glimpse of what runs through her head at times), I am captivated. It does not rhyme, but instead is thoughtful prose. The melody is beautiful and memorable. At the end, as the musicians improvise and fly free, Chiara Izzi joins them with scat-singing, more a pleasant wail than a scat. The lyrics of each song interpreted on this album are printed inside the CD jacket. Izzi has contributed four compositions, exhibiting her songwriting skills. Other songs include the work of Loewe and Lerner, Pat Metheny, James Taylor, Miles Davis and Henry Mancini. This wide range of composers showcases an equal range of vocal prowess by both Izzi and pianist, Kevin Hays. He has also contributed his own songwriting talents, co-writing “James,” a Pat Metheny composition, and co-composing with Izzi on “Viaggo Elegiaco.”
Hays is sensitive on his piano instrument while accompanying the vocalist. He is also the other half of this vocal team. They duet on “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” blending their two voices with just his piano accompaniment. Very smooth and reminiscent of a hotel lounge act. Grégoire Maret’s harmonica opens the James Taylor tune and we move from jazz to pop in the blink of an eye. Here, Kevin Hays lends his voice to background harmony.
This is mostly a Smooth jazz/pop music album. On the popular “Secret O’ Life” tune, Chris Potter brings the jazz on his saxophone solo. But for the most part, the vocal duet by Izzi and Hays is pop music. The title tune allows us to once again enjoy just Chiara Izzi, as she interprets another one of her original composition, featuring Mr. Maret on harmonica and a jazzy piano solo by Hays. The duet brings a Mediterranean quality to their music, and on “Viaggo Elegiaco” Izzi reverts back to her Italian heritage, displaying her multi-linguist abilities. “Verso Il Mare” is fun, arranged very Latin and once again features Chiara Izzi singing in Italian. Bravo to Izzi for selecting the difficult interpretation of the Miles Davis/Yanina Lombardi composition, “Tierna Nardis.” Nir Felder’s guitar support is smokin’ hot on this arrangement. This adds world music to the mix and invites us to open our minds and hearts to how music crosses all boundaries and how it joins us, like love, across the continents and worldly divides