CD review: Meredith d’Ambrosio – Sometime Ago 2021: Video, CD cover

As quiet as it is kept, vocalist/composer Meredith d’Ambrosio has become one of jazz music’s most highly regarded storytellers and performers. Her artful approach to musical interpretation has been treasured by many and has inspired numerous fruitful collaborations. Her new recording, Sometime Ago, finds her working with two masters of song, pianist Randy Halberstadt and trumpeter Don Sickler.

For nearly five decades, d’Ambrosio has been quietly but steadily spinning out new work, sating aficionados and casual listeners alike. Her beautiful voice, piano touch and song craftsmanship have been championed by many. D’Ambrosio’s unique talent can be heard on the seventeen releases recorded over three decades for Sunnyside Records.

The vocalist passes piano duties to Halberstadt on Sometime Ago. Halberstadt is a well-known pianist, composer and accompanist from Seattle, Washington. He brings his ensemble, which includes the father and son rhythm team of bassist Daryl Johns and drummer Steve Johns, to propel this tremendous session of original music from Halberstadt’s and d’Ambrosio’s pens as well as their arrangements of standards.

Sickler contributes his trumpet and production talents to help shape the album. The ensemble met at the legendary Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in October of 2019 to record the program.

Naturally, it is the music that stands out, as all of those involved are highly motivated to provide thoughtful interpretations of original and cover songs.

The recording begins with Halbertstadt’s longing filled “When Springtime Turns to Fall;” d’Ambrosio’s amber tone at home in the meditative and upbeat moments. The pianist and vocalist’s “Feast Your Eyes” is playful in its lyrics and modal development, while John Williams and Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s “Moonlight” is a laid back bossa reflection. Sickler’s warm flugelhorn introduces Sergio Mihanovich’s “Sometime Ago,” a coolly performed ballad featuring Daryl Johns’s fantastic solo bass work.

Marvin Fisher and Jack Segal’s blue “May I Come In” plays into a Chet Bakeresque subtle warmth in anguish. A bouncy take on “Ralph Rainger and Dorothy Parker’s “I Wished On The Moon” brings a sprightly feel, before Halberstadt and d’Ambrosio’s “My Open Heart” provides a heartbreaking song of love and loss.

Schertzinger and Mercer’s chestnut “I Remember You” is done in an upbeat swing, while d’Ambrosio’s “Oh Well, What The Hell” finds happiness in exasperation, Sickler’s fine muted trumpet a counterpoint to d’Ambrosio’s lines. The recording concludes with Rainger and Robin’s “If I Should Lose You,” a mid-tempo Latin piece that leaves listeners wishing for more.

A true master of mood and presentation, Meredith d’Ambrosio luxuriates in a meeting of bright collaborators on Sometime Ago. Randy Halberstadt and Don Sickler help to produce a balanced and emotionally varied work of art.

  1. When Springtime Turns To Fall (6:30)
  2. Feast Your Eyes (5:45)
  3. Moonlight (6:16)
  4. Sometime Ago (4:58)
  5. May I Come In (5:16)
  6. I Wished On The Moon (4:27)
  7. My Open Heart (4:10)
  8. I Remember You (5:12)
  9. Oh Well, What The Hell (5:03)
  10. If I Should Lose You (5:09)

Meredith d’Ambrosio – vocals
Randy Halberstadt – piano
Daryl Johns – bass
Steve Johns – drums
Don Sickler – flugelhorn (4) & muted trumpet (9)

Meredith d'Ambrosio

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