Album review

Roseanna Vitro – ‘Sing a Song of Bird’

Roseanna Vitro – Sing a Song of Bird
(Skyline Records SKYP 2101. CD review by John Stevenson)

On Sing a Song of Bird, four jazz vocal titans pay their respects to Charlie Parker. Singer Roseanna Vitro leads the session, joined by legends Sheila Jordan (still swinging like the clappers in her 90s), Bob Dorough (this album was recorded just before his death at 94) and Marion Cowings, who take turns with unique interpretations of now legendary Bird tunes.

Originally from Hot Springs, Arkansas, Grammy-nominated Vitro jammed with Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans in the early years of her career, before proceeding to New York City to work with Fred Hersch and Kenny Werner. Her acclaimed albums include The Music of Randy Newman (2011).

Kicking proceedings off with People Chase (Steeplechase) Vitro easefully tackles the standard in the company of a stellar line-up including pianists Jason Teborek and Alan Broadbent, bassist Dean Johnson, drummer Alvester Garnett, and alto saxophonists Mark Gross and Gary Bartz – both loyal keepers of the bebop flame.

Criminally neglected vocalese practitioner, Marion Cowings, offers a lively and soulful reading of Yardbird Suite and a blues-suffused, expressive delivery of Parker’s Mood.

Bob Dorough, of memorable Schoolhouse Rock! fame, and also Arkansas-born, contributes a swinging rendition of The Scatter (Red House) and Audubon’s New Bluebird. His empathetically rendered contribution to the ballad These Foolish Things alongside Jordan and Vitro is one of the album’s highlights.

Indeed, Jordan swoops and soars, birdlike, on Quasimodo, with youthful and triumphant scatting.

Bartz shines brightly at a fast pace while deftly negotiating the hairpin curves and twists of Koko/Cherokee.

Sing a Song of Bird delights and perpetuates the memory of one of the great figures of jazz.

LINK: Roseanna Vitro’s website

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