Artist: Gabrielle Stravelli
Album: Pick up My Pieces: Gabrielle Stravelli Sings Willie Nelson
Genre: Vocal Jazz
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Lady Luck / If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time
Time of the Preacher/ I Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone
Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys
Good Hearted Woman
Little Old Fashioned Karma/Blame It on the Times/Nobody Slides, My Friend
Somebody Pick up My Pieces/ Crazy
Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground
Always on My Mind
To say that Willie Nelson has been directly influenced by jazz is to state the obvious. Listen to the ever-reliable Stardust (Columbia, 1978) or check out any number of his latter-day releases—American Classic (Blue Note, 2009), Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin (Sony, 2016), My Way (Sony, 2018)—to experience that truth in repertoire; give his meeting with Wynton Marsalis, Two Men With The Blues (Blue Note, 2008), a spin for further proof; or simply listen to the man sing or play any succinct, thematically-aligned solo on his trusty guitar, Trigger, to glean it from the notes and phrasing. Jazz runs deep in Nelson’s soul, his very being, and vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli rides that influence in reverse on this smart tribute.
With a crack crew and some solidly inventive arrangements by bassist and musical director Pat O’Leary behind her, Stravelli sings her way into the heart via Nelson’s art. Opening on “Lady Lucky/If You’ve Got The Money, I’ve Got The Time,” she works with swing, country sass, and swagger in equal proportions. Then it’s on to a funky and bluesy “Three Days,” with ample space for a horn happening; off to a tenderly expressive “Butterfly,” where Scott Robinson’s alto flute plays the titular role to perfection; over to “Time Of The Preacher/I Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone,” which feeds on church and high drama; and up to “Stardust,” set beautifully in play by Stravelli alone at center stage.
As the program continues to unfold, more artful twists and heartfelt helpings further reinforce the strength(s) of subject and interpreter. With “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” Stravelli blows the roof off the place with her bebop scat chops. In “Karma Medley” she finds and defines the ties that bind “Little Old Fashioned Karma,” “Blame It On The Times,” and “Nobody Slides, My Friend” with swinging and swampy abandon. Through a string-suffused “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground” she displays poise while leaning on love and pain. And with an intimate “Always On My Mind,” she gives us a touching parting gift with regret written all over it. Hearing Stravelli sing these songs provides a real picture of the full Nelson as well as confirmation of her own fine craftsmanship.
By DAN BILAWSKY