Friday, November 24, 2017

Laura Campisi: “Double Mirror” (2017) CD Review

Laura Campisi is a talented jazz vocalist and songwriter based in New York, though originally from Sicily. Her debut album, Double Mirror, is a wonderful collection of original material and intriguing covers. Backing her on this CD are Ameen Saleem on double bass, Gianluca Renzi on electric bass, Greg Hutchinson on drums and Flavio Li Vigni on drums. Yup, the music is basically just bass and drums supporting her voice, though there are guest musicians on certain tracks.

The CD opens with an original song titled “Chorus Angelorum.” I love the loose and immediate sound of just vocals, bass, and drums. It’s a very cool sound and approach, and works to pull us into the world of the song. The lines that stood out for me the first time I listened to this disc are “Snow should be falling/And you here with me.” Winter is approaching, though not here in L.A., where it’s eighty degrees. But whatever the temperature, I am feeling the end of the year approaching, and I am missing that someone special. This song features a good lead on bass. Laura follows that with a cover of Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale.” It begins as almost spoken word, giving us the feeling she really is out on the street, selling her wares, working to gather a crowd of potential buyers around her. The song then takes on a funky, jazzy vibe, and features some absolutely delightful work by guest musician Zach Brock on violin, as well as more great work on bass. I don’t recall ever hearing a version quite like this one, and I seriously dig it.

Giovanni Falzone then joins Laura on trumpet on “Luckier,” an original composition. “I know nothing about the rules of life/And I haven’t yet found any answers/But I have seen many moons shining.” Ah, with the great, delicious sound of this track, it seems knowing the rules of life is unnecessary, irrelevant. At times Laura’s voice takes on a sweetness, and the trumpet certainly has an attitude all its own, which I love. This song also features some excellent and expressive percussion, helping to make it one of my favorites.

Laura Campisi delivers an intriguing rendition of Miles Davis’ “Nardis,” featuring lyrics that she added. Though at first her voice is used in an unusual way; it’s not quite scat, but almost like an animal or infant, someone communicating emotions without words. And her lyrics emerge naturally from that, delivered with the same excitement and wonder as the non-words. It’s kind of wonderful. “They say if it’s your lucky day/You will see Nardis coming your way.” What exactly is Nardis, anyway? This is a strange track. She also covers “I Loves You, Porgy,” giving a sultry, beautiful vocal performance. I’ve said it before, but you can never go wrong with Gershwin.

“Here Where I Stand” is a very cool track, an original tune with pop elements and a fantastic lead on saxophone that is powerful, almost reckless in its urgency and drive. That’s Martin Pantyrer on baritone sax. Laura Campisi’s vocal line is just as exciting as the saxophone. If forced to pick an absolute favorite track on this disc, this would be it. You should definitely check it out. She follows that with a strange take on the Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs.” Her delivery is kind of cute, adorable, at least at first. Venus In Furs is a book I love. I’ve seen half a dozen film versions but none of them have quite gotten it right. But where the films generally fail, this song always seemed to work. Laura’s rendition doesn’t have that haunting quality of the original, but is intriguing in its own way, and builds gradually so that suddenly you find yourself immersed in it. And then there is some wonderful work on bass. This version ends suddenly on a strong note.

CD Track List
  1. Chorus Angelorum
  2. Love For Sale
  3. Luckier
  4. Hyperballad
  5. Ironman
  6. Nardis
  7. The More You Know
  8. I Loves You, Porgy
  9. Here Where I Stand
  10. Venus In Furs
  11. Mojo Pin
  12. Al Risveglio
  13. Morningside 
Double Mirror was released on July 14, 2017.

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