Noemi Nuti – Nice to Meet You
(Ubuntu UBU0001. CD Review by Peter Jones)
Italian-American singer and composer Noemi Nuti’s debut album focuses on her love for Brazilian music. She has teamed up with a crack team of London-based musicians, including trumpeter Quentin Collins, also credited as ‘music director’, who produced this interesting and varied album.
Most of the material was composed by Noemi Nuti herself, sometimes in collaboration with pianist Andrew McCormack, who according to his website now lives in New York. Noemi brings her clear, fresh voice and facility with languages (she speaks Italian, English, Spanish, French and – of course – Portuguese) to bear on songs in a range of styles, all Brazilian-influenced.
One approach used repeatedly to good effect is the doubling or harmonizing of trumpet and voice, as on the opening track Infanzia. This includes a rippling solo from principal pianist Chris Eldred. We hear the trumpet/voice device again on Charade and Tidal Surge.
McCormack plays on two tracks. On the ominous Vista, featuring only voice and piano, he rumbles a dark ostinato as Noemi’s voice soars above it. This is a dizzyingly tricky piece, with many shifts of melody and rhythm that would completely defeat most singers. Rugiada is another difficult melody, this time mostly doubled with McCormack’s piano.
Another two tracks are more or less well-known Brazilian pieces: Dorival Caymmi’s Doralice, covered by singers from Gretchen Parlato to Eliane Elias, a track which JazzFM have been playing on their A-Playlist; and Dança da Solidão, by Paulinho da Viola.
Encouragingly, given the present season, the album has a Summery, seaside theme: on The Shell, an intriguingly washy piece, Noemi is backed by dramatic Eldred piano, Tim Thornton’s bowed double bass and Enzo Zirilli’s skittering brushes. In terms of vocal style, Noemi favours drama and complexity over ease and mellow vibes, which occasionally makes it less than relaxing for the listener. The album demands your attention – it refuses to blend into the background.
There are some moments of real beauty: Tidal Surge, co-written with Quentin Collins, stands out, featuring a lovely flugelhorn solo. On this tune guitarist Filipe Monteiro switches from acoustic to Allan Holdsworth-style electric. And on the gentle Dança da Solidão, which follows, Noemi is backed by Monteiro on acoustic guitar and Zirilli on hand percussion.
There is much to like about Nice to Meet You. Noemi Nuti is a highly talented musician, well served by her band, and on this evidence there will be plenty to enjoy from her in the future.