Francie Zucco / Enero!
Heads Up! This article is 22 years old.
Fort Wayne’s favorite jazz singer is back with a follow-up to 1998’s collection of winter songs, This Christmas. Enero! sticks to Zucco’s tradition of themed albums; this one follows a Latin path, and while This Christmas was a quiet, crystalline tribute to winter, Enero! is perfect for a hot summer night. Don’t be fooled by the album’s title (Enero means January in Spanish); although the title track is about winter, it’s far from cold.
Enero! is a wonderful collection of songs from around the Latin world drawn together by Zucco’s smooth touch. She shows a remarkable feel for language, and she presents each song with The smoky Italian of “Volare,” the Continental jazz of the Spanish “Dime” (which is a surprisingly sophisticated of a too-familiar pop standard) and the irresistible samba of the Portugese “Samba De Uma Nota So” are guaranteed to transport the listener far, far away from Indiana.
The songs of English origin on Enero! are also imbued with a sweet Latin touch. Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” benefits from Zucco’s jazzy flair; it’s much more appealing than Wonder’s own pop version. Kicking off the album, Rodgers and Hart’s “Where or When” is flawless.
Backing up Zucco on Enero! are some of Fort Wayne’s finest jazz musicians. She gets help from saxophonist Dave Streeter, keyboardist Eric Clancy, bassist Michael Patterson and more. Ken Jehle’s Spanish guitar on “Torna A Sorrento,” for example, is tremendously atmospheric.
Zucco is a local treasure, and Enero! is yet another in a string of recordings that show what jazz singing should be.