A couple of years ago I was surprised and honored to get an email from Lorena asking me to review some of her original lyrics before her recording date. She is an amazing singer and composer I met in Rome in 2011. At the time I was surprised she had reached out to me because her English lyrics were so imaginative and grammatically correct (not easy for anyone, but especially when working in a second language) so I did not know how much value I could add to her work. She did not need any real corrections, but we did engage in a wonderful dialog about motivations in the lyrics and questions about certain phrases that she subsequently revised herself. It was such an exciting exchange of ideas and I am grateful to have assisted her in any way during her creative process. She thanked me in the liner notes and that was a nice little thrill to see.
Lorena traveled all the way to California to record this CD and she produced a cool video about the trip entitled “The Making Of” where she shares a little bit about that recording process. (You can watch it on YouTube.)
I want to publicly thank Lorena for this wonderful gift. It was a true pleasure listening to her CD and I will enjoy it for years to come, it is timeless.
Lorena Fontana – A Vision
Lorena Fontana – vocals
Mitchel Forman – piano & accordion
Alan Michael Rosen – soprano sax
Edwin Livingston – double bass
Ralph Humphrey – drums
Here are some impressions and thoughts about each of Lorena’s tracks:
Gracias a la vida by Violeta Parra
A song of gratitude (Thanks to Life) gently sung in Spanish; it literally gave me chills. Lorena shines in a lovely flowing melody that’s accented by a little Latin scat and lively piano solo.
Music is an isle by Lorena Fontana
This piece has a very modern jazz feel yet reminds me of a Schubert Art song somehow. It is thought provoking and entertaining at the same time, with lyrics that promote music as a remedy for the differences that arise between us as people and nations. Music as an island where we can all gather and agree.
Two Kites by Antonio Carlo Jobim
I had not heard this song before and I have to admit because I saw it was written by Jobim, I made an assumption of what it would sound like before the track began playing, then Wow! What a fun, peppy and unexpectedly animated love story song. Lorena gives us an engaging version of the upbeat verse with phrases that soar into the clouds like the two kites. I loved this one!
A Vision by Lorena Fontana
This is the title track written by Lorena, an uplifting ballad that features a poignant accordion solo which, to me, adds a subtle cultural texture as Lorena serenades us with her beautiful voice and her vision of transcendence. A melody poem. A day dream and a motivation to move forward towards your goals and the joys of living.
The Maestro by Cedar Walton
Lorena breathes life into this lyrical tribute to the Maestro which given the rather recent passing of Cedar Walton seems to especially apply to his life.
Cinderella by Lorena Fontana
Light as butterfly wings, Lorena’s voice sparkles in this original song with lyrics that speak to the Cinderella in all of us; that part of our psyche that says we are not good enough. The drums are so perfect on this piece, reminding me of fluttering wings as well, all the solos are great on this song as it builds to the end. A lovely waltz, so wear your best attire and get out on the ballroom floor. A gem! (I hope some film producer picks this one up for a soundtrack; it would be so wonderful to listen to as you watch someone transform into their true form, or fall in love with their prince.)
What I’m worth by Lorena Fontana
This is a shining example of what I call a “list song” a piece where several things are listed in order to show a pattern or to prove a point; it is an especially inspiring arrangement with haunting saxophone accents. Lorena has written a fantastic story of what she is truly worth after the opening phrase that caught my attention right away: “I got lost, but I know I’m not a loser.” This song brought a lump to my throat.
The father and his child by Lorena Fontana
As Lorena skillfully relates the story of this father and child, I found the bass line to be a strong connecting thread. The piano also seemed so supportive, like a river flowing over dangerous rocks protecting the boats on its surface; a deep, strong and expressive performance.
Estrada Branca by Antonio Carlo Jobim
A totally enjoyable song about falling in love that opens in Portuguese before Lorena shows us more of her expert command of foreign languages by delivering a fresh perspective on “This Happy Madness” in English well. Brava!
Flor de Lis by Djavan
Lorena closes her CD with another song in Portuguese; the happiest sad song I have ever heard. A hint of Bebop and a heavy dose of Brazil combine into a perfect storm of melody and syncopation. If you are having a difficult day I advise a few listens to this perky piece that showcases Lorena’s precise vocals.
Lorena’s website is: http://www.lorenafontana.com/
Her CDs are available at iTunes and Amazon.com