On a beautiful spring Tuesday night, the Jazz Bistro was packed with friends, family and jazz fans alike to witness the release of a new CD by a charming vocalist named Mary Panacci called “Her Perfume”. From the looks of the repertoire and the titling of her CD, it was a night celebrating love, romance, and timeless music from various parts of the world.
Under the careful direction of Mary’s husband and pianist Anthony Panacci, they lead an all star band (Ted Quinlan on guitar, Mike Downes on bass, Kevin Dempsey on drums and Kelly Jefferson on saxophones) and its special guests through well executed arrangements (courtesy of Shelly Berger) and soaring performances that tug on one’s heart strings and treats the music as a collective family affair.
Starting with the opening number “A Beautiful Friendship”, the spirited arrangement effectively merges Mary’s sunny, spirited vocals with the lively swing of the backup band. In this opening number Ted Quinlan takes a very cool and melodic solo to get the music going to a good start. In “Double Rainbow”, Mary’s voice is more angelic and more romantic in this number, while she and her band take us to sunny Brazil singing about one of the world’s beauties. From the get go, Mary’s voice is full of life and charm, and makes the music more welcoming to the listener. On Double Rainbow there is even a fine Stan Getz-influenced sax solo contributed by the great Kelly Jefferson.
In celebration of the CD release, Mary invited three special guests to share the stage with her, adding their special touch to the CD Release celebration. First, there was the violinist Drew Jurecka who brought a classy, European gypsy-tinge to songs such as “I Wish You Love” and “La Vie En Rose”. Smooth jazz crooner John Alcorn joins in the fun with Mary as they do a romantic take on the standard “How About You”, sounding like a perfectly matched couple roaming around the streets of New York. Last but not least, Mary invites her daughter and a fine jazz singer Natalie Panacci as they swing through the standard “Almost Like Being in Love”, and take us to the Brazilian beaches in the classic standard “The Girl From Ipanema”. Natalie’s vocals showcase a huge jazz sensibility, and she is even creative with her scat singing and melodic duets with her mother.
Aside from the familiar tunes that she did in the evening, Mary even made room for selecting repertoire that was fresh, adaptable, and not heard too often in the jazz context. “Love Dance” serves as a beautiful love ballad which is well arranged and performed by Mary with her vocal delivery and the band which backed her up with such sensitivity and support. The Italian/French song “Love is Stronger Far Then We” showcased the splendor of Italy through Drew’s violin playing and the pleasure surprise of pianist Anthony Panacci brining out his accordion to add an old-school Italian touch to the piece. On the title track “Her Perfume”, it is a driving blues number that opens in 5/4 and then swings in 4/4, allowing Mary to show off her sassy soulful side to go along with a romantic evening.
Through what I heard at the CD Release concert, the Panacci’s has put together a winning formula that celebrates love and beauty from various aspects of the world. Mary’s vocals is so inviting and endearing that she made the audience want to be a part of her family, and her backup band for the night knew how to both let go and hold back at the appropriate times to make the music more effective. The concert was an effective, successful way to celebrate a momentous artistic achievement from beginning to end.
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