A supremely gifted and versatile vocalist, CRISTINA ZAVALLONI is certainly not the kind of singer to get herself stuck up a single musical blind alley. On the contrary, the multifoliate rose of her talents only really begins to bloom in conditions of climatic diversity, as this recording of a concert in Holland with her Open Quartet undoubtedly demonstrates. Zapping from jazz to pop to songwriter classics to contemporary composition, cabaret, folk (such as her unforgettable performance, both recorded and live in concert, on Banda Ionica’s Matri Mia project), CRISTINA ZAVALLONI confirms herself as an artist whose desire to continually cross new borders knows no limits, and whose omnivorous culture-mulcher curiosity, far from being mere showing off, leads her to observe and intelligently sample everything around her.
In this concert (which includes ome self-penned compositions), CRISTINA ZAVALLONI racks up an array of remarkable performances, ably supported by the informal, asymmetric jazz of her sidemen, most notably Gianluca Petrella on trombone. From the improvised vocal experimentation of Afro Tin-Tin and the delightfully surreal È un'altra cosa, CRISTINA ZAVALLONI passes nonchalantly on to revisit a couple of bygone classics of chanson (Charles Trenet) and Italian light music (Rita Pavone) in a free and inventive key unfettered by convention that gives them a gritty sparkle they probably never had in the first place. Stepping over to what is in some way a neighbouring, though more menacing, territory, ZAVALLONI then proceeds to reacquaints us with a Weill/Brecht piece, Youkali, that takes us back to that brief season when European tradition hooked up with American jazzsong, and pop music shed its banality for a moment in a salutary acid bath and shows why Weil is one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers. Composed by ZAVALLONI, herself Jason and Jim Song, are a couple of anglophone excursions, by turns amused and amusing, in which the singer unleashes her vocal imagination in all its ironically nuanced glory, effortlessly sweeping from dulcet cooing to barbed experimentalism. While Free Funk leaves ample space for the group to stretch its collective improvisational muscles, with Helàs CRISTINA ZAVALLONI tests her own compositional and interpretative skills in a soft, three-in-the-morning jazz ballad inspired by Oscar Wilde, whose surprise piano intermezzo shifts the mood abruptly to a plane of high drama.
CRISTINA ZAVALLONI is Louis Andriessen’s favourite vocalist and listening to this disc, it’s not hard to see why. When you go yes is yes offers further confirmation not only of her outstanding vocal talents but of the staggering maturity of a performer who is almost unique in her ability to balance grace with stinging irony.
ZAVALLONI Cristina & Open Quartet from Felmay Shop