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Calabria Foti: In the Still of the Night

| June 1, 2017

Calabria Foti

In the Still of the Night

(MoCo Records)

May 30, 2017

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

Every now and then an unfamiliar talent comes within my purview. Calabria Foti’s warm, rich, refined voice and elongated phrasing lends itself admirably to the sophisticated oeuvre of Cole Porter. Her urbane band boasts Eddie Daniels’ sybaritic clarinet flourishes, Bob McChesney’s savory trombone, and Richard Locker’s eloquent cello. MD/Arranger is Michael Patterson.

A markedly original (and successful) interpretation of “Miss Otis Regrets (She’s Unable to Lunch Today)” (used in the revue Hi Diddle Diddle) emerges slower and more melancholy than its usual deadpan demeanor. It sounds, in fact, bluesy. Cello effects undertow, vocal implies the message is difficult to deliver. Also with a fresh take (a mambo?) rendition of “So in Love” (Kiss Me, Kate) seems to imbue a single instrumental with both memory and promise.

Rendered with a shrug and raised eyebrow, a low-key, swing ‘n’ sway “Anything Goes” is performed with its expected tap arrangement replaced by smooth slow (inferred) choreography. The change in octave between “four-letter” and “words” seems to comment. Trombone is dapper.

“What Is This Thing Called Love?” (Wake Up and Dream) is lush and breathy with evocative hesitation as if having difficulty absorbing one’s feelings. Ends of phrases seem to vanish into ether. An oddly playful, refined clarinet (here masquerading as flute) tickles its way through the otherwise plaintive version. Solos on this recording often reflect sensibilities that appear different to those of the vocal.

“Just One of Those Things” (Jubilee), “Night and Day” (Gay Divorce), and “I Concentrate on You” (Broadway Melody of 1940) are eminently danceable. Mid-tempo, often Latin-influenced, the songs evoke country clubs: white dinner jackets, ankle strap shoes, martinis. In the first, light-fingered guitar makes the song both blithe and tart, a teasing clarinet loop-de-loops during the second, while the third offers seamlessly sliding vocal octaves. Lyrics don’t ring true, but musicianship is accomplished.

From the revue Seven Lively Arts comes a mournful “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” with just a hint of sob on “ev’ry time,” tiptoeing piano, and a vocal like mouth-watering molasses. We close with a velvety, austere “In the Still of the Night” (Rosalie). Cello nuzzles, then moves away palpably in pain. Foti’s unfussy vocal is sublime.

This is a candlelit-evening CD.

Also featuring: Gene Bertoncini (guitar), Michael Patterson (piano), Jared Schonig (drums), and Ike Sturm (bass).

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Category: Los Angeles, Los Angeles Music Reviews, Music, Music Reviews, Regional

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