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The Smiling Hour

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Album Review

Greta Matassa is something of a contemporary legend in the Northwest due to her incredible vocal skills. On this, her fourth album (at least on local Origin Records), she continues to showcase her excellent abilities. Her vocals are lilting where they should be, heavier where they should be, and she's one of the few contemporary jazz vocalists that can pull off a proper round of scatting without coming off gimmicky (as she does to good effect in Cole Porter's classic "Delovely"). While her voice is fine, it's her phrasing that really carries the show — she has an intuition for where to drop the notes and where to carry them out a bit more. This really comes into play in the hotter numbers on the album (which are also where she really gets to show off her outstanding band as well). Unfortunately there's something of a leaning toward softer, slower ballads here, which leads to less work from the band, and less opportunity for Matassa to show off her real skills. Her ornamentation can become almost obsequious in the process — some will enjoy it as exploration of the range, some will shun it as overdramatic. Fans of hers, and fans of vocal jazz in general, should forgive such minor issues readily though, with the bulk of goodness that can still be found here.


Born: Seattle, WA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Straight-ahead jazz vocalist Greta Matassa is a seasoned club performer with a bent toward Great American Songbook standards and often sings and improvises in a contemporary scat style. A Seattle native, Matassa was introduced to jazz by her parents, and by the time she was in high school was singing and studying her craft by listening to records. In her junior year, Matassa dropped out of high school and moved to Oregon, where she performed as half of a lounge duo with a pianist. Eventually, Matassa...
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The Smiling Hour, Greta Matassa
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