by Jason Hoffman
Regular readers of whatzup and jazz-savvy fans will surely know Francie Zucco as the winner of the Best Jazz Performer award for 1999 through 2001. Heart’s Content is her fifth album and it’s full of the heartfelt singing and excellent musicianship you’ve come to expect from one of Fort Wayne’s favorite performers.
With half of the album recorded at Sweetwater Studios by Robin Jenney and Jerrol Lehman, half at Tempel Recording Studio with Tom Tempel, the album includes some of Fort Wayne’s most talented jazz musicians such as Fawn Liebowitz’ Kent Klee on drums and Brian Derek laying down the fretless bass.
This album should be a delight to flautists everywhere, as the flute in featured on no less than seven of the CDs 16 tracks. Mama Renteria, Rick Brown and Dave Streeter take turns at woodwinds, with a particularly nice flute solo performed by Rick Brown on “Blue Skies”. The energetic tenor sax on “East of the Sun” is provided by Dave Streeter who paves the way for bass, guitar (Ken Johnson) and drum (Ron Gregory) solos. Less gracious vocalists would insist on constant limelight attention, but Zucco is confident to the point of sharing her dulcet voice with the musicians around her, and the album is filled with talented musicians plying their craft.
The title track is an impressive production with a full backing choir, inspirational arrangement and a full, impressive sound. At the other end sonically are tracks where Zucco showcases her voice against solo instruments such as “Autumn Leaves” and “Skylark,” with just Eric Clancy on piano, and “Lost April,” where Ken Johnson plays lone classical guitar for most of the song with Steve Walley adding light piano near the end.
As with her other releases everything is done with the utmost of professionalism. The artwork and layout are top notch, the CD pressed and screened, the insert professionally printed on glossy paper. And of course the audio production is perfect with the vocals up front containing just the right amount of reverb. This latest class act from Francie Zucco can be purchased at Borders, at her live performances or by calling (260) 637-6083.
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