....With enviable ease, Nardi and her musicians supercede genres and style borders, combining cabaret, pop, jazz, romance and world music....
March 17, 2014
Sergey Nikolaev - Trud.Ru (march 2014)

Those who attended the March 3rd concert at Tchaikovsky Concert Hall had a chance to listen to some Canadian Jazz, something which Muscovites know very little about. If they do, they only perceive it in more of a general, stereotypical context of North American that is, purely American Jazz.

Moscow Philharmonic Society invited Toronto Jazz diva Daniela Nardi to present her program which certainly impressed, was original, sincere and warm.

Daniela and her colleagues, Canadian musicians Ron Davis (piano), Kevin Barrett (guitar), Mike Downes (bass), Alexander Boychuk (clarinet) and Roger Travassos (drums) - brought to Russia their unique project Espresso Manifesto: The Songs of Paolo Conte, based on the songs of Italian singer/songwriter and artist Paolo Conte. This self titled album was released two years ago and has quickly become very popular among jazz fans.

Paolo Conte - 77 years old today - became famous 40 years ago when his song âAzzurroâ became a big hit, sung by another Italian singer, Adriano Celentano.

These songs of Conte, which are sincere, touching, naive are characteristic of that era of music. Similar artists of that time were, Celentano or Gianni Morandi, Yves Montand and Joe Dassin. However, those âbardâ melodies (which is what they are called in Russian) do not lose their charm when dressed in modern yet at the same time organic arrangements. Primarily because of Daniela Nardi and her expressive voice which American critics have named as having âSophia Loren sensuality with Anna Magnaniâs earthinessâ. In her charming, slightly husky timbre, Nardiâs voice is filled with such exhilarating passion, nostalgia and romantic tenderness.

With enviable ease, Nardi and her musicians supercede genres and style borders, combining cabaret, pop, jazz, romance, world music in such a way that make the works of Conte sound absolutely natural and harmonious to a contemporary audience.

Conteâs songs were the primary focus of the program. Among them, the absolute masterpiece which filled Nardi with such profound feeling - âNinaâ - with the extraordinarily beautiful melody, evoking the genius of Nino Rota. The mentioned âAzzurro, Ms. Nardi sang with such freedom and unbridled improvisation. With âUn Altra Vitaâ, the singer was emphasizing restraint, perhaps because the song opened the concert. Though it is probably characteristic of all jazz musicians to create a crescendo, starting with calm emotions and gradually âthrowing coal into the furnaceâ and bringing the audience into ecstasy. Daniela Nardi is no exception to this rule. They started the evening with fairly quiet rhythms and then completing the first half with a firey and lively âCome Diâ, which she entertained the audience with her whimsical kazoo. After the intermission, these musicians literally stunned the audience with their unbridled musical power.

The second half included more Conte songs, one of them âSotto le Stelle del Jazzâ, recalling how jazz was a big part of Conteâs life. The song âChiamami Adessoâ wooed the audience with its romance with Daniela demonstrating again Conteâs amazing lyrical gift.

As it turns out, Ms Nardi is also a talented songwriter. Her own songs, sung in English were included in the eveningâs performance. It is a pity that there were only two âThank Youâ and âWoman Meâ. Daniela flooded the audience with such emotion, leaving such a memorable impression. The program ended with the classic, charismatic âVia Con Meâ, which any Conte program can not do without.

Each musician in the ensemble demonstrated such incredible skill and virtuosity. Pianist Ron Davis (by the way is Danielaâs husband) - possesses such astonishing technique, you could say is an authentic heir of the other great Toronto pianists, Glenn Gould and Oscar Peterson. The way he played at the same time his left hand and right hand on both acoustic and electric pianos, was a breathtaking sight. Refined and intelligent in his improvisations was clarinetist Alexander Boychuk - who is a graduate of the Leningrad Conservatory and who once played in the orchestra of Yevgeny Mravinsky. Also displaying such virtuosity and delighting the audience was bassist Mike Downes. What may seem to be a heavy handed instrument, Downes plays with such virtuosity, demonstrating he is a great master of the instrument.

Twice throughout the concert, Daniela left the stage to allow the ensemble to shine. Both times, the musicians did make the room explode with delight. Especially the first time, when the band presented the Muscovites with a kind of Russian souvenir - improvisation on the theme âKalinkaâ. It certainly wasnât the last of a Russian surprise of the evening. In the encore, Nardi performed âOcci Chornyeâ. Performed in their own way, giving a popular Western feel and jazz hue.

The Diva from Toronto and her friends may say goodbye for now to their Moscow audience, but we hope it wonât be for too long.

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