This is Toni Jannotta's third vocal jazz CD and contains eight original compositions by the artist. As of February 2009, IS IT MAGIC? will have been heard on radio stations: WTEB-FM 89.3, WUCF-FM 89.9, WMNF-FM 88.5,WCLK-FM 91.9, KUNV-FM 91.5,WGTE-FM 91.3, WUFT-FM 89.1, WBZC-FM 88.9, WDNA-FM 88.9, WUWF-FM 88.1 WNCW-FM 88.70, KFSR-FM 90.7, WSHA-FM 88.9, KNON-FM 89.3, KFCF-FM 88.1, KZSC-FM 88.1, KUAF-FM 91.3, WMSE-FM 91.7, KSMU-FM 91.1, ASFM105.4 in The Netherlands, and Radio Adelaide 101.5-FM in Australia.
Toni is originally from Los Angeles and began as a singer/dancer in musical theater. Toni has traveled in Europe, Jamaica and the U.K. playing in clubs and festivals as well as conducting vocal improvisation workshops. In this, her third CD, Toni offers a combination of contemporary, straight-ahead, and instrumental.
The reviews are starting to come in . . .
CHRIS SPECTOR - MID WEST RECORD RECAP
Jannotta takes almost everything into her own hands and wears the responsibility better than some others in the national spotlight recently. At least she doesn’t remind you of your first ex-wife. Writing, producing and playing, Jannotta crafts an original, new jazz work that doesn’t exactly find her sliding into easy pigeon holes as she keeps things moving forward and interesting. Taking a different tack for a contemporary jazz singer, Jannotta is on point with this relaxed date throughout. It’s not often that an original work that flies in from under the radar has so much on the ball so succinctly. Simply put, this set sounds as good as she looks in a slip dress (check out the back cover). _Aerie
DOUG BOYNTON, GIRL SINGERS
“Ambassador of Possibility.” That’s what the publicity handout says about Toni Jannotta, a west-coast performer. This is her fourth disc, which she co-produced with pianist Greg Gordon Smith, who also arranged the material. It’s a mix of ballads and vocalese - eight of the twelve tracks are originals, written by Ms. Jannotta.
Ms. Jannotta’s voice is something of beauty - whether powering through intricate vocalese - or gently caressing a ballad. Range and power from zero-to-infinity in nothing flat.
My favorites include the tracks I’m most familiar with. Saxaphonist Scheila Gonzalez backs a very cool rendition of the Brubeck classic, “Take Five,” and You’ve probably never heard Madonna’s “Borderline” as a ballad. But there are originals of note - the City of Ventura, California pitched in with an arts grant, and Ms. Jannotta and the band pay tribute with a nicely swinging song titled, simply, “Ventura.”
And the disc ends with an instrumental penned and performed by Ms. Jannotta titled, “Ruthie’s Themes.”
The originals will grow on me - as I listen more.
And I will be listening more…oh my, yes.
Three stars (out of four)
JOHN BOOK, THE RUN OFF GROOVE#216
I listened to this jazz singer who carries herself with the kind of grace that, as someone who can shun vocal jazz in an instant. She goes at it smoothly and she sounds silky fresh. This is her third album, it’s pure uncut Jannotta. The musicians who back her on this, including saxophonist Scheila Gonzalez (known for her work with DIVA and recently was part of Zappa Plays Zappa), bassist Pabl Motta, drummer Chris Wabich, and pianist Greg Gordon Smith, and even though she doesn’t consider herself a musician, Jannotta does a great job playing the piano in “Ruthie’s Themes.” My favorite song on the album is a cover of Sting’s “Fragile.”
BILL BRUCE, KFSR, Fresno, CA
Toni gives us a bit of her own special magic with an adventurous CD showcasing her own music and lyrics on all but a few cuts. A rousing "Take 5" and a special tribute to Ventura, (Ca) allows her band to stretch out a bit. All in all a CD that makes her proud.
IS IT MAGIC? offers eight original tunes from pop jazz to sultry ballads, with four covers gone jazzy from George Straight to Madonna. The stella L.A. studio musicians consisting of Greg Gordon Smith, pianist and arranger, Pablo Motta, bassist, Chris Wabich, drums and percussion, and the beautiful Scheila Gonzalez on saxes and flute, give each tune a life of it’s own.
So if you like Mythology (NARCISSUS & ECHO), TAKE FIVE in 10/8, straight-ahead vocals with a vocalese comic flair (OPPOSITES ATTRACT), and some bass bowing work that sounds like a cello (RUTHIE’S THEMES), check out IS IT MAGIC?