ACQ (Amy Cervini Quartet)
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ACQ (Amy Cervini Quartet)

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“...Cervini neatly straddles the line between confessional balladeering and breezy swing. Covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat� and Fiona Apple’s “Extraordinary Machine� are worth the price of admission all by themselves, but pianist Michael Cabe’s solid accompaniment, bassist Mark Lau’s deft counterpoint and drummer Ernesto Cervini’s lithe timekeeping move the entire set along nicely.� - Steve Smith
- Time Out New York


Two Etobicoke Collegiate and Toronto All-Star Big Band veterans, New York-based vocalist Amy and her drumming brother Ernesto, a frequent Hogtown-Big Apple commuter, release this debut CD on Saturday at the late Rex show – and it's worth hearing from tracks 1 through 10. Joined by pianist Michael Cabe and bass Mark Lau, they dip into wide repertoire ranging from contemporary pop (Fiona Apple, Feist, etc.) to jazz chestnuts to cabaret to gloomy poet Leonard Cohen, whose "Famous Blue Raincoat" inspired the disc title and the foursome to make moving music. Jonatha Brooke's "Because I Told You So" is a great starter, too. Amy has risen fast through tough singing ranks down south, and her freshly appealing voice is a big reason, allied to sympathetic support. The tasteful sounds suggest both youth and wisdom, a fairly miraculous tandem, but ironically it's the jazz songs that succeed least. - The Toronto Star


Artists make statements through the material that they choose and in the way they interpret that material on their albums. Sometimes the artist is trying to create a mood or capture a certain moment or sound, while other times they might simply be paying homage to a great writer or performer. Regardless of the exact aim of these statements, the material chosen for an album can make or break the recording. Many fine musicians have had great success because of their chosen material and many albums, with otherwise strong performances, have been relegated to obscurity because of the material.
Fortunately, the Amy Cervini quartet falls into the first of these categories. Cervini, who is a member of the vocal jazz group called Monday off, clearly has eclectic tastes and takes a variety of approaches to the diverse selection of songs on this album. Mixing selections from modern troubadours, rock musicians and standards isn’t remotely new. Artists like Kate McGarry, Erin Bode and Petra Haden, to name just a few, have done great work with similar stylistic choices in recent years. Cervini, while using a similar formula, takes the road less traveled with specific song selections and writers. The more popular, and well-covered artists like Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Björk are passed over for songs from Jonatha Brooke, Leonard Cohen, Fiona Apple, Weezer and many more. Thankfully, since you might be wondering, these performances are gimmick-free. “Because I Told You So,” written by Jonatha Brooke, starts the album and is given a heartbreaking delivery from Cervini. Cervini, who has had the opportunity to sing with Oded Lev-Ari’s Big Band, performs a composition of Lev-Ari’s called “How He Sings.” This song, as it unfolds, sounds as if it could be from a Broadway musical. Michael Cabe, Mark Lau and Ernesto Cervini, the instrumentalists in the band, have some room to let loose mid-song. Cabe’s piano work beautifully supports Cervini’s voice during the tenderly performed “Sliding Down.” Cervini’s interpretation of “Famous Blue Raincoat,” the Leonard Cohen song which is referenced in the album title, falls midway between the overly emotion-drenched Tori Amos rendition of the song (featured on Tower Of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen) and the dry delivery that is typical of Cohen’s own performances. I have always felt that this is one of Cohen’s best songs and Cervini’s version stands up well against many of the strong Cohen covers out there. “No Moon At All,” begins with some finger snapping behind Cervini’s vocals and the hip, swaggering bass line provided by Mark Lau. “Mushaboom” is lightly played and, following a slightly mysterious introduction, takes on a slight country-tinge during the verses of the tune. “Extraordinary Machine” from the Fiona Apple album of the same title, is slightly happier and bouncier in the hands of Cervini. The use of clarinet, ably performed by Ernesto Cervini, and accordion, from Cabe, give the piece a gently gliding quality that is absent in the original. Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” is the most charming track on the album and the ensemble brings a perfectly laid back and relaxed feeling to the song. Cervini’s voice, for the majority of the track, takes on a hypnotic quality. It is similar to that of Margo Timmins from the genre-bending Cowboy Junkies. “Don’t Explain,” which is probably the most jazz-oriented song on of the set, works best when intimacy reigns supreme and the music and vocals are emitted at a whisperlike volume. “Holiday,” from rock band Weezer’s heralded debut album, closes out the proceedings and the vocals become a group affair. While I have said much about the material, the truth is that the execution is even more important and Famous Blue, from the Amy Cervini Quartet succeeds in both of these areas!

- Jazz Improv


Discography

ACQ - Famous Blue - March 2007

Monday Off - self-titled - December 2006 - Airplay across America and on internet radio

Photos

Bio

The debut album from ACQ features songs by Leonard Cohen, Jonatha Brooke, Edgar Meyer, Fiona Apple, Feist, Weezer, some stard jazz repertoire by Cole Porter and Billie Holiday and a new addition to the repertoire with a song by young composer/arranger/producer Oded Lev-Ari.

Amy Cervini is a regular at New York clubs including Birdland, The 55 Bar, The Knitting Factory, The Jazz Standard, Cornelia Street Cafe and Joe's Pub. Shse has also appeared at numerous clubs and concert halls around the world; from Toronto to Tel-Aviv. Ms. Cervini is currently a member of the New York-based vocal jazz group Monday Off, that released their long awaited, self-titled sophmore CD in December 2006.