On her newest disc, Zingaro, Fort Lauderdale-raised jazz sensation Alexis Cole takes on several familiar standards and allows her captivating voice to stand out without much accentuation. She's accompanied solely by guitarist Ron Affif and bassist Jeff Eckels for the entire disc except on the upbeat song "Walkin'," which features solid session work from Saul Rubin and John Roche. The album's title, which means gypsy in Portuguese, is taken from a classic tune by Brazilian composers Chico Buarque de Hollanda and Antonio Carlos Jobim. This bossa-nova-influenced song essentially reflects the singer's nomadic lifestyle — in the past few years, she's traveled extensively throughout South America (on a music program with Berklee College) and has barely kept a mailing address of late. One of the strongest songs on the album is "Stompin' at the Savoy," a Benny Goodman swing hit that in Cole's hands becomes something much subtler — the notes, originally intended for a big band, become a vehicle for Cole to exercise her pipes and also for the players to showcase their musical ability. On "Baby Ain't I Good to You," she takes advantage of the song's bluesy structure and sounds like a contemporary mix between Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson. Whether you've heard of her or not, Zingaro is a fine opportunity to discover the vocal work of a local talent who sets herself apart from your average jazz vocalist by taking on various sonic influences without veering far from her jazz roots.
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