Michelle Zangara,
Songs of Blue
(MZRecords, 2014)

Michelle Zangara is a New York City jazz singer who has discovered the Great American Songbook. In the one-sheet that accompanied the album, she says "these songs represent the hidden gems in the American Songbook that go unnoticed and are rarely performed." The standards that aren't standard, as it were.

Not that it makes any difference, but does her statement hold up? Have "I'm in Love Again," "Stardust," "On the Street Where You Live" or "The Gentleman is a Dope" been rarely performed? These are overlooked songs?

To my mind, we can pretty much say Zangara's basic premise doesn't hold up, but hers won't be the first case where the theme of an album is apparent only to the people who made it. The question is, how does she do with these songs?

Overall, the answer would be not bad. Not bad at all. Zangara obviously loves this material and has the taste and skill to get inside the songs, to find the truth in them and let it out. Her smoky voice suits "Stardust," for example, as though made for it. As she sings it, she is true to Hoagy Carmichael's intentions, but plays with the melody just enough to make it hers.

Zangara is not afraid to flatten out a note in a way that makes her phrasing sound odd if that's what the song requires. And she's capable of finding a fresh approach top overfamiliar material, for example, turning "On the Street Where You Live" into a blues number.

Michelle Zangara is a committed, intelligent singer, with taste and her own fully developed style.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

12 April 2014

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new