Greta Matassa, "All This and Heaven TooLive At Bake's
by Tony Bonjorno, Seattle Gay News
Seattle native and jazz vocal genius Greta Matassa displays her impressive
talent on her new, live recording, All This and Heaven Too. Starting
her career in the 1970s singing with blues and rock bands, Ms. Matassa
began to concentrate on jazz, recording two albums with local big band,
The Jazz Police, before releasing her first album as band leader in
1991. Since then, she has been honored four times by the readers of
Earshot, the Seattle jazz magazine, as best Northwest Jazz Vocalist.
An amazing performer with a vocal style that is fearless, full of life
and expression, a jazz vocal hero able to leap tall buildings in a single
bound, Greta Matassa will sing her way into your heart with her first
recording since 1994, All This and Heaven TooLive At Bake's
Place. With a sense for rhythmic improvisation a la Ella Fitzgerald
and an equally compelling flare for the romantic ballad or heartbreaking
blues, Ms. Matassa takes classic tunes like "Crazy He Calls Me,"
"I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance," or "Close Your Eyes,"
touching them with the gusto of her singing, reviving them with her
consummate ability and uniquely uninhibited stylings.
Worthy of the many comparisons to Billy Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Diane
Schuur, Aretha Franklin and even Judy Garland, Matassa moves through
bebop and ballad with equal ability, superb technique and accessible
emotion, transmitting her understanding of a song. Amazingly versatile,
sometimes lively and humorous, sometimes moving and introspective, Greta
Matassa treats each piece as a new canvas, giving it an individual palate
of color and feeling.
All This and Heaven Too opens with a straightforward, almost
autobiographical sounding "Why Try to Change Me Now?" which
morphs into a touching version of "Crazy He Calls Me." Becoming
more seductive and salacious with the sliding of brushes and the sweet
support of understated vibraphone and piano, Matassa sings a husky and
lush version of "Come Rain or Come Shine."
The title track opens with an improv duet between Matassa and Clipper
Anderson on bass that sets the stage for a swing that keeps moving through
the almost seven-minute track. With "Ruby" Matassa sings of
the devastating power of love with heartrending emotion, leaving an
ache for more. Matassa handles "Blue Prelude" with an improvised
power and passion that is at once, without hesitation and understated.
Moving into the torch ballad style, Matassa sings the opening to "I
Never Had a Chance/I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance" with a free
and easy, rubato style that moves into an upbeat celebration of unrequited
With heartbroken tones, she sings the Rogers and Hart standard, "He
Was Too Good to Me," then changes mood again with a zippy beat
and the seduction of "You and the Night and the Music." Back
to the ballad with the Gershwin/Weill collaboration, "My Ship"
finishing with a mid-tempo, Jack Brownlow arrangement of "Close
your Eyes," a perfect ending to an amazing musical journey.
Proving that like is attracted to like, Ms. Matassa is accompanied by
some very fine local talents including the piano prowess of Randy Halberstadt,
the rhythmic mastery of Mark Ivester on drums and Clipper Anderson on
bass, not to mention the dulcet tones of Susan Pascal on the vibraphone.
In collaboration, the band truly swings, bebops and breaks hearts with
their excellent musicianship and synergistic ensemble musicianship.
Truly deserving of her growing reputation as a singer to revive the
great vocal traditions of Holiday and Fitzgerald, Greta Matassa's All
This and Heaven Too will stand as a testament to her vocal genius
and extraordinary sense of style. To answer the musical question from
"You and the Night and the Music," after the night and the
music Greta sings, she will have you.