Rita di Ghent reminds me of how many of the great female jazz singers also excelled at the blues, like Anita O’Day, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and even, in her own way, Ella Fitzgerald... “Rita for a Rainy Day” resonates throughout with echoes of those great ladies... Rita shows us that she knows what all those great women knew: that you don’t have to have what’s regarded as a traditional blues voice or sound like you spent your whole life as one of Mahalia Jackson’s choir to sing the blues... Rita shows that its possible to sing all this material in a highly personal and completely understated way...[she] employs a spare, pointillist approach reminiscent of the best contemporary movie music – Carter Burwell’s score to True Grit for instance – the kind where you can feel every note and every word, and every emotion assumes importance... Rita has much to say to us with this album, but her most important point may well be that, more than anything else, the blues is a romantic music. --Will Friedwald
Rita Di Ghent has an interest in a wide variety of music but is particularly skilled when singing jazz. Rita For A Rainy Day, is a ballad-oriented set that also makes room for some lowdown blues. “You Go To My Head” establishes a dreamy atmosphere a little reminiscent of late period Billie Holiday although Rita has her own sound. “Willow Weep For Me,” after an introduction by Kirkwood’s baritone that leads one to think that this will be a ballad, surprisingly is taken faster than usual and features a cooking vocal. The vintage “Sugar In My Bowl” and a soulful “Since I Fell For You” precede a very expressive and partly out of tempo “I Loves You Porgy.” Rita really digs into the lyrics on this heartfelt version.
“Mood Indigo” is given a rare vocal version. Lil Armstrong’s “Just For A Thrill” is not revived very often but that may change after Rita’s emotional rendition. “I Want A Little Boy” is given a sassy treatment and Rita sounds rightfully melancholy on “Good Morning Heartache.”
The last two songs find Rita taking songs from the pop world and redoing them her way. Nina Simone’s “Do I Move You” is taken as a sexy and mildly threatening blues. Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman” is given a treatment so memorable that it is one of the high points of this fine outing. --Scott Yanow
©2012 Groove Productions, Toronto Canada 416-909-7819. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying of this recording strictly prohibited.
Personnel: Rita di Ghent (v), Dave Restivo (p), Marc Rogers (b), Daniel Barnes (d), Kenny Kirkwood (alt, bari), Fred Raulston (vibes), Jaro Jarosil (strings). Bedtracks recorded at Spirit Hills, Toronto. Vocals recorded at Psychotropic Studios, Toronto/Dundas. Mixed and mastered by Nick Blagona. Photo: Shari Payne. Graphic Design: Eric Parker