Gabriele Tranchina: Of Sailing Ships and the Stars in Your Eyes

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Gabriele Tranchina

Of Sailing Ships and the Stars in Your Eyes

(Rainchant Eclectic Records)

January 23, 2018

Reviewed by John Hoglund for Cabaret Scenes

In a musical world overrun with cookie-cutter CDs, along comes something that can only be described as sui generis. Versatile jazz stylist Gabriele Tranchina’s new album is an eclectic musical journey that displays her wide versatility on many levels.

Born in Germany, she is proficient in several languages, with a penchant for Latin jazz. Too, she is adept at several genres that appeal to many musical tastes. All are given her personal stamp. On this 12-song disc, she breezes through complex moods with ease, blending a fluent mix of styles including bossa ballads, swing, 7/4 rhythms, improv, and just plain sexy jazz. It’s all gloriously arranged and backed by husband Joe Vincent Tranchina leading the tastefully dynamic band. The singer shines on this internationally flavored CD which is sure to be appealing to many sophisticates.

Particular standouts are by Joe Vincent Tranchina (half the tracks are by him), including the opener, “Island Dreams”—a fast-paced ditty with a contagious beat. A languid “Bossa Ballad and Blue” is a reflective, melancholic love ballad that unfolds with a sexy backdrop of Carlo De Rosa’s burning bass line that is infectious and sweet. Also, for fun, listeners will want to check out a lighthearted “Straphangin’,” about a flirtatious encounter on the train. The album’s title cut is a soft, jazzy love story that touches on escapism and dreams in a tender way, beautifully supported by a muted band here. Vernon Duke’s “Autumn in New York” is given a bright, driving beat that wins the listener, along with Vince Cherico’s swaying percussion in the background. More of this might be welcome as Tranchina has a terrific way with standards that recall another time.

The lilting “A Song for India” (Tranchina) wraps the album in an esoteric style that shows off the singer’s affinity at range and versatility which is her calling card. She does this through an intensity that recalls the late Yma Sumac in a subdued, multi-octave vocalesse against a driving, haunting rhythm from the band. It intoxicates as it crescendos, while painting ethereal portraits the listener can only interpret on a singular level. Such uniqueness place this disc in its own league which incorporates the use of German, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and English. There is even a prayer sung in a Hindu chant that captivates.

The superb band deserves equal billing for its multi-genre musicianship that soars with ecstasy and are restrain as needed.

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.