Judi Silvano

Songs I Wrote or Wish I Did (JSL)

Judi Silvano is a fine jazz singer. Married to Cleveland tenor saxophone great Joe Lovano, she has appeared on some of his albums, but here she's the leader and he's the sideman. Trained as an opera singer and modern dancer, as well as a writer of classical chamber works, she has composed five tunes and written lyrics for another here. Jane Hall, whose husband is Cleveland guitarist Jim Hall, contributed the pretty ballad "Something Tells Me," and composer Emil Boyd is represented by the beautiful "I Love Music," which features lyrics by Clevelander Hale Smith. Thad Jones wrote the theme, and Abbey Lincoln wrote the lyrics on "When Love Was You and Me." One of the most attractive selections on the CD is the Bob Dorough/Fran Landesman song "Without Rhyme or Reason." Older pieces include Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lonesome Thing" and "If I'm Lucky," a charming but rarely performed song. Silvano's choice of top-notch but unfamiliar songs adds considerably to the album's freshness.

In view of her formal voice training, Silvano's singing, while enthusiastic, is in some ways surprisingly restrained. She uses her operatic range while scatting, but not much elsewhere. Her pleasing timbre is rather lean, and she doesn't use a lot of vibrato. Her strengths are that she is relaxed and she enunciates precisely. Her improvised lines also have real substance, and the members of Silvano's band do a fine job of backing her, as well as soloing. Drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Essiet Essiet play propulsively but not obtrusively; Larry Goldings demonstrates that he is among the most lyrical jazz organists around; guitarist Vic Juris accompanies Silvano impeccably; and Lovano turns in lovely, Stan Getz-like work on "A Flower" and duets excellently with Goldings during "Climbin' the Peak." As if this weren't enough, the arrangements are fine, showing a good deal of attention to detail.