June 25, 2024


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Gabrielle Stravelli – Dream Ago 2017: Video

Jazz vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli’s third album, Dream Ago, was the core subject of an intimate performance at The 75 Club, welcoming to her stage pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Pat O’Leary, and drummer Rob Garcia, and where she proved that having fun needn’t mean skimping on rigor.

From her delectable original “Cake of My Childhood” to Cole Porter’s “Dream Dancing” (seamlessly arranged by O’Leary), the positive vibrations of Stravelli’s musical mind activated the room with their inspiration. Not ones to ignore such a gift of opportunity, her backing musicians picked up on every cue—both spoken and unspoken—toward deepening the groove of the moment. This was especially true of Hirahara, who in his solos unpacked a vast array of colors from monochromatic themes. O’Leary, for his part, oared a distinctly melodic undercurrent, while Garcia moved through every change with shine and pizzazz. But nothing put their leader’s chops on more artful display than “Little Zochee.” For this reimagined O’Leary tune, originally recorded in 1985 and featuring the late Tom Chapin on flute, Stravelli composed a vocalese around Chapin’s solo to scintillating effect. With flawless intonation and rhythmic boldness, she bounced through every twist and turn on the heels of a smile, as also in her own “Prism.”

The hour-long set also included a song that never made it to the album: “Whistling Away the Dark.” Written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer for the 1970 film Darling Lili, the painterly demands of this haunting number were dutifully met, making it a highlight of the evening. Further cinematic delights awaited in Hoagy Carmichael’s “Baltimore Oriole,” a sultry ditty meant to be a theme of sorts for Lauren Bacall in 1944’s To Have and Have Not.

But it was the set’s opener, old standard from the 20s called “‘Deed I Do,” that readily showed Stravelli’s instrument to be a winning combination of fire and water. Her rendition of “A Beautiful Friendship” (a song made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole) found gorgeous life in duet with O’Leary. The biggest surprises, however, were two Willie Nelson songs that are a prelude to Stravelli’s forthcoming project. First was the almost-bluesy “Three Days,” from Nelson’s 1962 …And Then I Wrote, followed by “Butterfly,” a dreamlike country ballad written on the wind of his 2017 album, God’s Problem Child. For icing, Stravelli encored with “Sleigh Ride,” jingle bells and all.

Just as entertaining as Stravelli’s delivery were her tales of traveling the world as a US State Department Jazz Ambassador, influences of which have funneled into her songwriting, and by extension confirmed her abilities as a listener. It’s no small feat to stand tall when everything feels like its crumbling around us, but she does so with openness of heart, welcoming you home, as if since many dreams ago.

1. Dream Dancing
2. Cake Of My Childhood
3. Little Zochee
4. Where Is The Song
5. If Only Love Was Blind
6. Didn’t You Tell Me
7. Bicycle Blues
8. It Might As Well Be Spring
9. Dream Ago
10. Prism
11. More
12. Now I Know

“Listening to the jazz singer Gabrielle Stravelli is like imbibing a potent cocktail whose flavor changes as you drain the glass. In the first couple of sips, the predominant taste is the sparkling wine that has drifted to the top, for Ms. Stravelli’s bright, rippling voice exudes a natural effervescence. Before long, it darkens, and the heady liquor underneath kicks in…As she dipped and swooped, twirling notes and phrases with a confidence and playfulness that recalled Ella Fitzgerald in her prime, Ms. Stravelli began interpreting lyrics with a ferocity that her vocal pyrotechnics accentuated…” ~Stephen Holden, the New York Times

Award-winning vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli has garnered critical acclaim and a loyal following through her original songs and her unique take on material from the New American songbook as well as classic standards by artists as varied as Pink Floyd and Duke Ellington, Dolly Parton and Johnny Mercer. A trained actor, Gabrielle has a soulful sensitivity for the story in the lyric and was called “a powerhouse of individual expression” by David Finkle of The Village Voice.

In January 2017, Gabrielle released her third album, “Dream Ago” comprised primarily of original material co-written with bassist Pat O’Leary. The album received a five-star review from DownBeat Magazine and garnered raves from the Huffington Post, Scott Yanow of LA Jazz Scene and Tony Frankel of LA’s Stage and Cinema among others. In March Gabrielle and her trio toured the album for ten days traveling from Philadelphia across the Midwest.

Bass, Arranged By, Music Director – Pat O’Leary
Drums – Eric Halvorson
Glass Harmonica – David Cook (3) (tracks: 5)
Guest, Vocals – Kenny Washington (5) (tracks: 7)
Guitar – Saul Rubin (tracks: 1)
Piano – Art Hirahara (tracks: 1-8, 10-12), David Cook (3) (tracks: 9,10)
Reeds, Brass, Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Flute, Trumpet – Scott Robinson (2)
Vocals – Gabrielle Stravelli

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Gabrielle Stravelli at The 75 Club

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