is the debut album of the 25 year old singer Matteo Brancaleoni.
Although he was born and bred in Italy, Brancaleoni brings a distinctly American jazz flavour. He speaks with a voice that is reminiscent of the styles made famous by Sinatra and Bennett. In his own way Matteo not only draws upon those influences, he also exhibits a level of maturity that is not obvious physically speaking.
When listening to him you'll find within his singing a treasure trove of honesty. Here he is able to muster an interpretation that is far beyond his age, filled with tinges of insight, regret, heartache, and love. His heartbreaking way with standards is there for all to see, he makes them fresh once again.
Brancaleoni has thorough command of a pure, glorious, warm baritone voice, near-perfect pitch, and great taste. His timing and phrasing are exquisite. His voice has a sexy swagger; its steady, controlled and full of attitude.
Brancaleoniis accompanied by the 80 year old pianist Renato Sellani, who has played with Phil Woods, Tony Scott, Lee Konitz and accompanied such singers as Billie Holliday, Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan. Sellani sounds inspired, a true poet of jazz piano.
The albums features an All-Star Band composed by first rate musicians, Fabrizio Bosso - he really rocks on trumpet! - drummer Stefano Bagnoli, Massimo Moriconi (bass), Franco Cerri (guitar) and Gianni Basso (tenor Sax). Cerris arrangement of My Funny Valentine is breathtaking.
The selection of material is immaculate. An extraordinary balance between jazz standards, and classic songs.
The beauty of Brancaleonis voice is perfectly captured on this recording. The rhythm section is perfectly balanced and the focus is primarily on the singer. The results sound simpler to achieve than they must have been in reality, and have a very natural feel.
With this record, Brancaleoni proves that he is not just a great crooner, an heir to Sinatra for our time, but a jazz singer of the first rank.
While Brancaleoni may need some time for his vocal talents to mature to match the Sinatra comparisons, there is every indication that he will only continue to grow as a singer. We can expect really great things from Matteo Brancaleoni in the future. And the present ain't too shabby, either.
If ever there was an artist to include in your repertoire of recordings to experience Just Smile
is one of them.