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Under the Moon

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Album Review

At first glance Under the Moon may seem like a conventional standards vocal date, particularly with the inclusion of such songs as "Stardust," "Mood Indigo," "Sophisticated Lady," and "Prelude to a Kiss." However Barbara Sfraga is an adventurous and chance-taking singer, one who is not shy to take a potential warhorse and make it into something new. Just to name a few examples, on "Stardust" she begins by singing a cappella before interacting with guitarist John McLean, whose tonal variations sound a bit like Bill Frisell. "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," normally a ballad, is taken at an up-tempo pace in 5/4 time. "You've Changed" is given a double-time rhythm and "It Might as Well Be Spring" becomes a fast waltz. This set is full of continuous surprises. Sfraga's appealing voice is flexible enough to interpret both the familiar standards and a few newer songs, including her own "Never Walk Away." She is backed by a sparse, alert, and attentive unit consisting of guitarist McLean, bassist Christopher Dean Sullivan, drummer Paul Wertico, and percussionist Kevin Patrick. Although she is generally in the lead, Sfraga's voice often functions as part of an ensemble, and she proves to be as inventive as most jazz musicians. This is an intriguing set, well worth several listens.


Born: 28 October 1956 in Long Island, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A native and resident of the New York Area, Barbara Sfraga is a risk-taking jazz vocalist and lyricist who has listed everyone from Betty Carter, Mark Murphy and Jon Hendricks to Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin as influences. The singer was born and raised in Bay Shore, Long Island, and she attended Long Island University from 1974-76 before moving to Connecticut in 1976 and attending the University of Bridgeport from 1976-78. Sfraga majored in classical voice at Bridgeport, but after discovering...
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