Superb hometown show...Magical evening ... Supple delivery...impeccable phrasing...effortless
December 10, 2012
Itâs great to see this tremendously talented Italian - Canadian singer / songwriter / bandleader begin to receive wider recognition. She has just played sold-out shows in Montreal, has a New York City gig soon, and recently played a superb hometown show at The Glenn Gould Studio.

The evening began in unconventional fashion, with âViso,â a visual presentation of the work of noted photographer RINO NOTO. His portraits of prominent Italian-Canadians were projected on-screen, accompanied by the evocative playing of two virtuosos, pianist RON DAVIS and trumpeter FABRIZIO BOSSO.

Fittingly, the final image depicted Daniela Nardi herself. That was an appropriate cue for Nardi and her full seven-piece band to take the stage. As anticipated, most of the evening was devoted to material from Nardiâs most recent CD, Espresso Manifesto: The Songs of Paolo Conte. The album is scoring unanimously glowing reviews in both North America and Italy for imaginative interpretations of the work of this iconic Italian songwriter.

As Nardi explained to the audience, she sounds nothing like the raspy whisky-soaked voice of Conte, but that actually is an asset. Having a pure-voiced female vocalist sing these songs allows the listener to concentrate on both the rich imagery of the poetic lyrics and the strong and romantic melodies that characterize Conteâs work. With the creative input of Nardiâs band, these songs fuse jazz, cabaret, pop, and world music strains with a seamless ease.

Her supple delivery means she can convey the frothy lightness of a song like âGelato al Limon,â the jaunty playfulness of âVia Con Meâ (arguably Conteâs most famous song), the carnival-like atmosphere of âCome Diâ (a real highlight on the night), the gentle pleading of âDon't Break My Heart,â and the haunting moodiness of âGioco DâAzzardoâ equally convincingly. Throughout the performance, Nardiâs phrasing was impeccable, while subtle hand gestures helped punctuate the emotional impact of different songs. While her new album is a homage to a songwriting legend, Daniela Nardi is no slouch as a writer herself. She showed that here with three eloquent originals from her 2007 solo album, One True Thing.

Halfway through the concert, Nardi briefly left the stage for âPawpwalk,â a jaunty jazz instrumental written by Davis (Nardiâs husband and a notable jazz musician/composer in his own right). This tune allowed all the players to showcase their skills, and none disappointed. Her group for the performance comprised Davis, Bosso, bassist MIKE DOWNES, drummer LARRY CROWE, guitarist KEVIN BARRETT, accordionist LOUIS SIMAO, and clarinetist JOHN JOHNSON. Bossoâs fluent and expressive playing on tunes like the romantic ballad âNinaâ showed why the Italian instrumentalist is now internationally recognized as a rising young star.

A magical evening that helped capture Nardiâs creative mission statement, Espresso Manifesto. To her, Espresso is âthe ultimate symbol of all things Italian. Dark. Rich. Earthy. Complex yet effortless. Elegant. Primal. Hot.â A good description of this concert actually.
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