Gabrielle Stravelli: Dream Ago

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Gabrielle Stravelli

Dream Ago

(Big Modern Music)

July 31, 2017

Reviewed by John Hoglund for Cabaret Scenes

Gabrielle Stravelli continues her ascent to pop/jazz stardom. An accomplished cabaret and jazz singer, she’s also a songwriter. This is all well defined on a captivating new album of mostly original songs, Dream Ago, produced by David Cook. Filled with inventive sounds and carefully crafted stylings, it’s supported by some exceptional musicians and Pat O’Leary’s suave arrangements. The success of any jazz project depends on a symbiotic collaboration between the singer and the instrumentalists. Here, Stravelli serves the music in spades. In his liner notes, legendary songwriter Bob Dorough (at 93 years old) cites her versatility and calls her…
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“a quadruple threat and a force to be reckoned with.” That’s not hyperbole. The nod is to Stravelli’s well received forays as a jazz/pop singer, lyricist and actress.

Nine of the tracks are her own, with Stravelli providing the lyrics in collaboration with others.
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On seven tracks, she is the composer or co-composer. It all makes for an engaging listen by one who has been honing her craft and growing in stature on the music scene for several years now.

There are terrific standouts on this disc. Cole Porter’s “Dream Dancing,” from the 1941 film You’ll Never Get Rich, kicks it off with a unique spin that includes an over-dubbed choir giving it an imaginative whirl that gently reinvents this classy tune with panache. A comical “Cake of My Childhood” is a fun-fest journey through her youth, while the insightful title track becomes a reflective ode to her late father. She skillfully wrote both music and lyrics on “If Only Love Was Blind.” This cut is a winner and features Art Hirahara’s lilting piano. On a breezy “Little Zochee,” she intelligently adds lyrics to a flute solo by Thomas Chapin. “Didn’t You Tell Me” gets a clever feminist stamp that recalls the Andrews Sisters. “More” is a haunting beauty that lingers. Bob Dorough’s “Where Is the Song?,” originally written for Diana Krall, is catchy and memorable. The album also includes Stravelli’s imaginative take on the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein “It Might As Well Be Spring.” A duet on “Bicycle Blues” with Kenny Washington is a treat, as is this intoxicating album that deserves attention.

Ultimately, the CD is a journey of complex and refreshing emotions that will have the listener hitting the replay button. Stravelli has carved her own niche through intelligent, wistful vocals and a talent that places her in a league with the best in today’s jazz world.

Dynamic musicianship is provided by the magical Art Hirahara on piano throughout, along with David Cook on piano and Fender Rhodes, Pat O’Leary (bass), Eric Halvorson (drums), Scott Robinson (reeds and brass), and Saul Rubin (guitar).

John Hoglund

For over 30 years, John Hoglund has been a respected entertainment writer covering cabaret, jazz, theater and recordings. His writings have appeared in numerous outlets including the Bistro Bits column for Back Stage. John moderated seminars and forums for the International Cabaret Conference At Yale. He produced many celebrity fundraisers in NYC including one of the first benefits after 9/11: “HeartSong:The Heroes' Concert” at The Bottom Line featuring 36 major stars. He co-produced “HeartSong2: The Heroes' Concert” for Katrina victims at Symphony Space and “Miracle On 35th Street” with a star-studded lineup. Other fund raising efforts include the first benefits for Broadway Cares and God's Love, We Deliver. John served on the Board of Directors of MAC for 12 years. He is well known for championing new and rising talents.