Cervini's fourth album - available now on Anzic Records - presents her trio's atmospheric takes on jazz, country, folk and pop favorites, with guest spots by Anat Cohen, Nellie McKay and Marty Ehrlich, among others
What the press is saying about Jazz Country:
Cervini can sing most any song and tell a story worth hearing." —DownBeat MAGAZINE
...an album filled with intimate performances that showcase an extraordinary vocalist and her sensitive-and-simpatico musician friends." —All About Jazz
A major charmer, this. And not exactly in any genre easily pigeonholed either." —Buffalo News
Big-hearted hybrid album from singer Amy Cervini that's as endearing and tender as a vocal recording can be in 2014." —ICON Magazine
Free-spirited, genre-defying singer Amy Cervini - praised as an honest, self-assured and honey-dripping presence" by All Music Guide - continues to broaden the idea of what a jazz singer can be with her fourth album, Jazz Country. Released today, Feb. 18, 2014, by Anzic Records, Jazz Country is a beautiful collection of North Americana" that finds the Toronto-bred, New York-based singer in league with her eponymous Jazz Country trio mates, guitarist Jesse Lewis and bassist Matt Aronoff, plus such guests as clarinet superstar Anat Cohen, one-of-a-kind singer-songwriter Nellie McKay and avant-jazz saxophonist Marty Ehrlich, among others. Cervini and company perform jazz and country songs, as well as folk and pop tunes, with a sense of storytelling, melody and atmosphere to the fore. Virtuoso drummer Matt Wilson put down his sticks to take the producer's chair for the album. Jazz Country features songs by the likes of Hank Williams and Neil Young, Johnny Cash and Carrie Underwood; there are kindred-spirit originals, inspired novelties and a soundtrack classic ("Calling You" from Baghdad Café), along with irresistible versions of such evergreens as Blue Moon" and Smile." Time Out New York has praised Cervini's work for tearing down boundaries between old and new jazz styles, rock, pop, country and more - a reminder of Duke Ellington's old axiom that there's just two kinds of music, good and bad."
With Jazz Country, Cervini explores multiple aspects of the title. Most obviously, jazz meets country on the album or, rather, jazz-schooled musicians explore country, folk and pop music. More deeply, there's the idea of Cervini's own jazz country, in New York City. She explains: At heart, the title Jazz Country reflects a community of musicians - kindred spirits for me, personally and artistically. The band's initial aim of blending jazz and country music - out of a love for each - has become something more: a celebration of a circle of musical friends, all the diverse personalities and talents." About her Jazz Country trio, Cervini says: This is a democratic band, one where everyone brings their own ideas. Jesse is so versatile, adventurous and creative, with his own sound and style. Matt is such a sensitive bassist. He really watches me, flowing with the voice. The band steeped in this music over three years of gigs at places like the 55 Bar and Cornelia Street Café, so we really developed our sound. Jazz is often about filling space, but we wanted to leavespace in the music. There aren't any drums or cymbals in the mix, and we weren't afraid to let the voice and lyrics resonate in the air, so there's room to really feel the stories in the songs."
As for the album's special guests, Cervini says: Anat Cohen is the premier voice on her instrument, and she has guested with Jazz Country a lot. Whenever we do a song like 'Frim Fram Sauce' without her, I miss herpresence - it's so energizing. I have worked with Marty Ehrlich for years in various capacities, and I have such respect for him. He has this strong, soulful voice as an instrumentalist and brought a real blues feel to 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.' I've been a big fan of Nellie McKay for a long time, and I recorded her song 'I Wanna Get Married' on my album Lovefool. She's such a unique performer and having her sing and play ukulele on 'Wallflower Lonely, Cornflower Blue' was a real treat. I got to know keyboardist-accordionist Gary Versace through his work in Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts band. He's astoundingly inventive and such a thoughtful accompanist. Trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis is another thoughtful musician, with a beautiful tone and melodic sense. Besides being a wonderful pianist, arranger and producer, Oded Lev-Ari is my best friend, husband and father of our two kids. 'Go Gently to the Water' is the first duet we've recorded together, oddly enough. Matt Wilson and I work together a lot - we talk practically every day. Full of ideas and positivity, he's a master of allowing musical moments to happen. He enabled Jazz Country to be what it could really be - and he captured it."
About Amy Cervini
The New York Times has described Amy Cervini as a thoughtful and broad-minded jazz singer," and DownBeat Magazine called her Anzic album Digging Me, Digging You: A Tribute to Blossom Dearie a gem." Cervini's two previous solo albums - Love Fool (2009, Orange Grove) and Famous Blue (2007, Orange Grove) - saw the vocalist range interpretively from Cole Porter, Billie Holiday and Leonard Cohen to the Cardigans, Feist and Depeche Mode. Live, she has performed in clubs and concert halls from Toronto to Tel Aviv and in prime New York venues from the 55 Bar, Cornelia Street Cafe, Joe's Pub and the Knitting Factory to the Jazz Standard, Birdland, the Blue Note and Carnegie Hall. The Ottawa Citizen declared that the ex-pat Canadian sings terrific, gimmick-free jazz [with a] poise, intelligence and an unforced honesty that makes every song ring like it was her own."