Greta Matassa: Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, New York, NY. April 25, 2011
Jersey Jazz Journal
Seattle-based vocalist Greta Matassa made her first new York City appearance at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on April 25. After hearing her first set, it was apparent that having her make the scene in the greatest of jazz centers was long overdue. She is a jazz singer who possesses easy confidence, a flexible voice, and astute musical instincts.
There is often a lot of controversy regarding who or what is a jazz singer. Many of those whom I put into that genre are singers who approach a song like an instrumentalist. Conveying the nuances of meaning in the lyrics is not at the forefront of their attention, especially on medium to faster tempos. What attracts them to a song is the musical structure and feeling.
Matassa fits that mold. This was especially evident on her opening and closing numbers, "Blue Prelude" and "Nothing Like You," Both were taken at a tempo that was faster than is normally associated with the song, and the melody was subsumed to the musical adventures that Matassa had in mind for each selection.
I am not always a big fan of scat singing, but do warm up to it when the singer has the imagination and musicality to make it feel real. Matassa definitely is a superb scat singer. She only goes into this mode occasionally, but when she does, she is electrifying.
She did sing a few ballads, "Reminiscing in Tempo," "If I Could" and "Alone in the World," but they did not convey the kind of involvement on her part as did the songs that were more quickly paced.
Her entire package of talents came together most effectively on a fast boppish reading of "It's De-Lovely." She swung, she scatted, she soared, and each of her band members had space for impressive solos.
Peter Bernstein should be given special notice for his consistently inventive and engaging solo turns. Whether laying out lines of beauty on a ballad, taking things to speedsville or visiting blues alley, he made you sit up and dig his artistry.
This may have been Greta Matassa's first professional bit of the Big Apple, but it should not be her last. Her jazz chops are masterful, and her brief gig at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola showed that she deserves some more extended exposure here.
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