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June 8, 2001

Vitro Review LA Times
Friday, June 8, 2001

Vitro Keeps Bill Evans in Her Thoughts Until Blues Surface

By DON HECKMAN, Special to The Times

Roseanna Vitro's Texas blues roots didn't surface until the very end of her first set at the Jazz Bakery on Tuesday night. Prior to that, she devoted a substantial portion of her program to songs from her new recording, "Thoughts of Bill Evans."

As the title indicates, the material is a collection of tunes in which words have been added to some classic Evans compositions. And Vitro did an effective job with the vocally demanding twists and turns of melodies that were originally conceived as pianistic expressions. Her most successful efforts--at the Bakery, as on the recording--were with lighter, more rhythmic numbers such as "Funkallero" (with lyrics by singer Karen Gallinger, who also has recorded her own versions of Evans' songs).

Vitro's warm, expressive voice was equally well displayed during an imaginative rendering of the Hammerstein/Romberg classic, "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise." Here her interaction with her musicians--pianist Shelly Berg, bassist Trey Henry and drummer Adrian D'Souza--was the effort of a seasoned professional. Starting in a duet passage with Henry, she gradually worked her way into the tune, climaxing with a brisk, spirited scat section.

Her romp through Benny Golson's "Whisper Not" was also delivered with lighthearted swing, its impact diminished a bit when Vitro and Berg couldn't quite get together on the riff-like passages in the song's middle section--one of the hazards of too-brief rehearsal time.

And what about those Texas blues roots? They burst through the proceedings full force when Vitro decided--apparently with complete spontaneity--to do "down and dirty blues." Singing with great confidence, her lush sound now tinged with a slight but appropriate edge, she cruised easily through the roiling shuffle rhythms characteristic of Texas blues style.

It's not likely that Vitro, well into her third decade as a jazz-based singer, will ever seriously revert to her rock origins. But, to paraphrase a current automobile commercial, she wouldn't, but she could.

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