It has been nearly a decade since vocal artist Greta Matassa has spoken to us via a new recording. With Portrait, Matassa covers the best of the songs she has performed with her working band of the past 10 years. The result is a solid, swinging collection of tunes steeped in intimacy.
Whether diving into Michel LeGrand's "Pieces of Dreams," or reimagining Bob Dylan's late 90's jewel, "To Make You Feel My Love," Matassa takes on each piece with a musician's mind. Her instrument is pure, with perfect pitch and dominant range. Her almost innate sense and understanding of the blues is refreshing and welcoming.
In interpreting Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss," Matassa's ability to tell the story, in the mood and vibe intended by the composer is self-evident. Her long-time pianist Darin Clendenin contributes an elegant solo, and comps sparingly, articulating the harmony perfectly for Matassa's radiant style.
"If You Never Fall In Love With Me," features Matassa and saxophonist Alexey Nikolaev in a lively exchange with voice playing counterpoint to tenor in trumpet-like fashion. Matassa's ability to solo is more akin to a fine horn player than a practitioner of more traditional scat. Quicksilver bassist Clipper Anderson, and drummer Mark Ivester combine with Clendenin to form that perfect canvas of harmony and time that makes this entire record swing freely.
Matassa's father, who's portrait of his wife—Matassa's mother—adorns the cover of Portrait, often described to his daughter the parallel between jazz improvisation and abstract expressionism. His daughter is a practitioner of such a notion, able to recreate a standard tune into an original masterpiece. This album stays on point as a snapshot of a decade with her working band. It may well be her strongest and most creative effort to date.