Roseanna Vitro
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Roseanna Vitro

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR
Band Jazz Blues


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"Sailing Away ... to Lake George (Roseanna Vitro, Mark Soskin, Christian Scott)"

The festival season in the Northeast has wound down, but came to a nice end in lake George, NY, with the village's annual Jazz Weekend.

One of the most interesting bookings was the Randy Newman Project, featuring the vocals of Roseanna Vitro and the arrangements of pianist Mark Soskin.

Newman, of course, is a folk-pop guy (He's contributed music for films as well) who arose 30some years ago with albums like Sail Away a classic. He's written tunes that other folks have made popular, like “Momma Told Me Not to Come" and “You Can Leave Your Hat On." “Short People" (Have No Reason to Live) may be—but shouldn't be—his most well known because it got a lot of airplay. It also got some idiotic flak from people who thought he was criticizing short people from that group of Americans that continually illustrates that they have waaaaaay too much free time.

[Photos, by me: TOP: Mark Soskin and Roseanna Vitro; BOTTOM: Christian Scott and Christian Scott band]

Anyway—Vitro, a strong singer with a rich voice and a veteran's jazz savvy, applied her vocal charm to songs like “Sail Away," with Soskin playing the familiar piano intro. The song loses none of its beauty, and in fact is brought out beautifully by the singer and Soskin's superb accompaniment. The violin statement seemed to bring out its emotional quality even more.

“I re-worked a lot of that, definitely," Soskin told me a couple months back. “In terms of feel and harmony. That's really a challenge, because a bunch of those songs are so simple. And a lot of the lyrics are talking; they're more spoken. So, it's tricky. But that's a challenge I also like." It held up real well. A fine set of music.

“In Germany Before the War" and “Baltimore" were lifted from Newman's Little Criminals, and “last Night I had a Dream" came from Sail Away. Among others, yes, they did the song that Three Dog Night made a hit ("Momma Told Me ...). Each selection brought new life to Newman's ideas. There were unique twists to each and all were quite welcome. As for Soskin's playing, he was at his usual bent: superb. Soskin is one of hose undervalued pianists who always comes through.

Under valued by the populace that is. Sonny Rollins hired him for about a decade, so someone knew the value. He even brought Soskin out to Seattle for a gig earlier this year. ("It was great," Soskin told me a couple months back. “I didn't really see him until we were up on the stage during sound checks. The sound checks are usually us just playing. We almost played up to the performance. The feeling was really great. I said to him at one point, 'It's been a while.' He said, 'Mark, don't think like that. It seems like it was just yesterday.' That was very cool. We have a long past, as you know.")

Soskin and Vitro were the heroes of those interpretations. As an encore, they tossed in “Blue Monk" from the straight-ahead jazz world and burned like hell over the Thelonious Monk blues theme. Soskin especially. Roseanne sang lyrics by Abbey Lincoln and did it with the perfect sense of time—critical in Monk tunes—and feeling as well. It was the real shit.

This music has already been recorded, Soskin says, but with Sarah Caswell on drums and some guitar work by the exceptional Steve Cardenas. Expect to see it some time next year. In the meantime, there aren't many gigs featuring the material—something that should change once the CD comes out. Soskin himself was headed out to Helsinki the morning after the Lake George show.
- R.J. DeLuke, (Sep 26, 2010) - All About Jazz (9/2010)

"Live at the Kennedy Center"

Vitro’s singing is blessedly mature, accurate, soulful, comforting and utterly honest. Her sound is one that jazz has always welcomed with open arms: wide, deep and colorful; beautiful without being pretty. Her solos include straight ahead, sure-footed swinging phrases, adventurous technical forays, humor and a faultless sense of balance within each tune.
Never have yodeling and the simultaneous prospect of infidelity seemed so appealing. Roseanna Vitro’s Live at the Kennedy Center somehow manages to deliver both in a joy-filled, swinging and refreshingly vital recording. Sara Holtzschue 2006
- 06/2006

"Personally, This Sister Can Sing"

By Don Heckman, Special to The Times

Roseanna Vitro is proud to wear the label of jazz singer. As a performer, educator and clinician, she is a dedicated advocate for the genre. "I like to think of myself, along with other female jazz singers, as members of a sisterhood," she said Thursday night in her opening set at the Vic in Santa Monica.

A "sisterhood" of a common interest but of very different creative perspectives. The single quality that dominated Vitro's performance (in which she was ably accompanied by pianist Mark Soskin, bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Ralph Penland) was her highly personal view of what jazz singing is all about. And, with three decades of performing experience and 10 recordings to her credit, she's had ample opportunities to discover, craft and refine that view.

Vitro's voice is an extraordinarily versatile instrument. Her rendering of Randy Newman's touching "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," for example, displayed a dark, honeyed sound, simmering with just enough edge to emphasize the song's enigmatic lyrics. In other material, she moved easily from open-throated belting to growls, purrs and an occasional yodel.

Add to that an impressive capacity to invent paraphrases, especially in standards such as Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You." Although Vitro also offered a few brightly swinging, instrumentally styled scat segments, she was far more compelling with the passages in which she remained in touch with a song's lyrics, while spontaneously improvising her own, far-ranging variations on the melodies.

There were times when Vitro's performances suggested the cool detachment of a master class — all the pieces in place without the emotional undercurrent.

But in selections with a greater sense of creative and expressive tension — the moodiness of the Newman ballad and the spirited high jinks of Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance" — Vitro's fully realized skills as a jazz singer finally broke through. - Los Angeles Times: 02/9/07

"The Delirium Blues Project"

For 90-proof proof of Vitro’s underappreciated eminence among contemporary vocalists (and Werner’s equally exemplary brilliance as an arranger) look no further than the kaleidoscopic reading of Eric Bibb’s “Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirits Down” that closes this hour-long slice of swamp-dredging, heaven-reaching genius.

-Christopher Loudon - JazzTimes April 2008

"Roseanna Vitro & Kenny Werner"

DownBeat 2009 April

Roseanna Vitro and Kenny Werner
The Delirium Blues Project
Half Note Records 4534 ***

If standards are songs with a lasting connection to the greater jazz and pop consciousness, then multiple candidates are offered to Roseanna Vitro and Kenny Werner's The Delirium Blues Project. Surrounding themselves with players able to transform country into blues, slick funk into sharper reggae, and pop classics into big-bellied New Orleans grooves, this unassuming duo commands the stage at the Blue Note in New York.

With her silken yet powerful pipes, Vitro ignites titles such as " Half Moon, " Joni Mitchell's " Blue" and Mose Allison's "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy." Not only do Werner's arrangements dramatically alter and maximize the songs' traditional atmospheres, but heightened by Vitro's scorched- earth readings, they rise to the level of widescreen classics. In another era, the Werner/Vitro team would've taken their show to Broadway, wowing the crowds with high flying, small ensemble productions of Mitchell's "Be Cool" (a la Steely Dan), a reggae-infused "What is Hip?" and Esther Phillips "Cheater Man." The musicians bring burn and boil to Werner's arrangements, Vitro wails and works it.

Ken Micallef - Downbeat April 2008

"This Lady Can Really Belt em' Out"

Delirium Blues Project - Serve or Suffer - Half Note Records

This lady can really belt ‘em out, but she’s got a wide repertory of approaches too

Published on April 04, 2008

Delirium Blues Project - Serve or Suffer - Half Note Records
Half Note Records HN 4534 *****:

(Roseanna Vitro, vocals; Kenny Werner, keyboards/arranger; with Randy Brecker, Ray Anderson, Rocky Bryant, James Carter, Geoff Countryman, John Patitucci & Adam Rogers)

Not many jazz vocalists stimulate me to get fingers to keyboard but this lady who carries the soubriquet “the Texas Tornado” does it for sure. The artwork on the cover portrays a seance, and the description in the notes is pretty apt: at the seance Janis Joplin has a seat next to Mose Allison, Nine Simone next to Tracy Nelson, and Annie Ross next to Tower of Power. This lady can really belt ‘em out, but she’s got a wide repertory of approaches too; it’s not all Joplinesque high power.

The tune choices are great, sort of unexpected with this genre and type of delivery - tunes like What Is Hip? and Be Cool. The band is incredible, filled with great performers who give their all. The live setting at the Blue Note captures the maximum excitement of the moment. This is not the sort of thing avid blues fans will necessarily jump on, but the average jazz fan should dig it the most!

What is Hip?, Goodnight Nelda Grebe - The Telephone Company Has Cut Us Off, Blue, Be Cool, Half Moon, In the Dark, Cheater Man, Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy, Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down.

- John Henry - Audiophile Audition

"Roseanna Vitro review"

"On the album 'Conviction', Roseanna Vitro solidifies her reputation as an astute proponent of songwriters' lyrics, even as she personalizes their music and makes it her own. Vitro is her own person, in possession of a wide array of vocal characteristics and an insightful approach to the music she sings. No one is quite like her." Bill Donaldson 2001 - Jazz Improv Magazine

"The Randy Newman Project"

"Singer Roseanna Vitro has had great success with her strikingly soulful tributes to Ray Charles (1997's Catchin' Some Rays) and Bill Evans (2001's Conviction). Her collection of radically re-imagined Randy Newman originals like "Last Night I Had a Dream," "In Germany Before the War" and "Sail Away" provides sterling arrangements by pianist Mark Soskin and stirring performances by violinist Sara Caswell. Another triumph by the bluesy Jazz Ambassador from Texarkana." -- Bill Milkowski"
— Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes - JazzTimes

"Roseanna Vitro "Live at KC's""

One of the most fun and lively jazz singers around, Roseanna Vitro has always had plenty of charisma and spunk. Most importantly she has a lovely voice, a flexible style and an adventurous spirit. Her sets range from risque' to vulnerable and from joyful to touching in their emotions, and she has the ability to make one laugh or cry, a rare trait for any singer."

Scott Yanow - LA Jazz Scene 2006

"Live at the Kennedy Center"

Roseanna Vitro is simply one of the best in the business. This adventurous concert at the Kennedy Center, with frequent collaborator Kenny Werner on piano, features bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tim Horner providing a potent rhythm section. Her expressive take of "Like Someone in Love" swings like mad and features Werner's daredevil soloing. Vitro's humorous side comes across in Betty Carter's sassy and seductive "Please Do Something." The vocalist is at her very best interpreting a pair of songs by the late pianist Bill Evans, both of which have had lyrics added to them. The demanding "Twelve Tone Tune" is a challenge for any musician, but Vitro and her trio devour its tricky changes. The haunting "Epilogue" was conceived by Evans as a solo piano miniature (and later recorded in concert as the conclusion of a suite arranged in memory of his father); Vitro penned the thoughtful lyrics, while Werner's inventive accompaniment makes him the perfect partner for the singer. Nor is she hesitant to explore repertoire from the world of pop. Vitro's soulful duet with Werner of Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" is a gem. Roseanna Vitro has long been deserving of greater recognition among jazz listeners as a whole and this CD is a perfect place to start for the novice or an automatic purchase for those already familiar with her work. Ken Dryden
- All Music Guide 2006

"The Delirium Blues Project"

Delirium Blues Project, Co-led by Kenny Werner & Roseanna Vitro,

Kenny Werner
In August 2007, longtime friends and musical partners in jazz Kenny Werner and Roseanna Vitro took to the stage of the Blue Note in New York with a bodacious new category-bending band, the Delirium Blues Project. Werner occupied his customary piano chair but also filled the new role of arranging for the nine-piece group. Vocalist Vitro tapped into her Arkansas and Texas roots to deliver the goods on Delirium's funk and blues material, which ranged from Tower of Power and Tracy Nelson to Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone.

Highlights from that Blue Note engagement are set to be released later this month (March 25) on “Serve or Suffer," which features Werner and Vitro with the all-star Delirium horn section of Ray Anderson (trombone), Randy Brecker (trumpet), James Carter (tenor saxophone), and Geoff Countryman (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet), as well as guitarist Adam Rogers, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Rocky Bryant.

“Delirium celebrates the blues as the basis for much of popular music," says Half Note vice president Jeff Levenson, who produced, directed, and steered the project to completion. “But its music transcends and bridges the categories--gospel, blues, country, pop, jazz, rhythm and blues."

Werner's arrangements aimed to “capture a spirit," says the pianist, “to highlight the blues as a foundational form worthy of progressive interpretation. I found the writing process fascinating, because some of the tunes were very familiar in their original recorded versions, but I still wanted to give them a new spin. That required me to honor the essence of what made them work the first time around--whether they were funky or nasty or rockin'.

“Once I got that, I could set my sights on the members of the band, especially Roseanna, and write arrangements that played to her influences in various styles of roots music."

Because of Vitro's lifelong immersion in those styles, she found Delirium to be a deeply personal project. “There's pure joy in singing these songs," says Roseanna. “Part of the thrill was hearing this cool material through the prism of my friend and mentor, Kenny Werner, and his approaches to it. So many of these songs reflect where many of us come from, and--ironically--where we return, as we explore new creative terrain."

Both Werner and Vitro have earned their jazz bona fides over 30-year careers marked by fearless originality, distinguished collaborations, and multiple honors and awards. But, like most artists of a certain age and experience, they're also facing the challenges of today's imploding and evolving music industry.

Vitro has long worked as a clinician, educator, and touring Jazz Ambassador as well as a performer and recording artist, and Werner had already published his 1996 book Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within, which has made him something of a creativity guru. Following the tragic death last year of his teenage daughter Kat, he embraced the Delirium Blues Project by stepping outside his proven comfort zone--writing, arranging, channeling the transformational power of the blues.

With this release Vitro officially joins Werner in the family of artists at Half Note Records. Together, they continue a creative journey begun nearly 30 years ago. “Roseanna and Kenny have shown that take-charge, forward-thinking musicians improve us all," says Half Note's Levenson. “They possess a spirit and a positive energy so clearly heard in Delirium. I'm proud of them. They're changing the planet one song at a time."

- All About Jazz


The Music of Randy Newman is slated for release on Motema Records in May 2011.
"Jazz Stories" duets featuring jazz great; Kenny Werner on piano with Roseanna in an eclectic program of jazz standards and contemporary compositions.
The Delirium Blues Project-Half Note Records 2008
Live at the Kennedy 2006 (Blue Chip Award-IAJE)
Tropical Postcards - Challenge Records 2004
Conviction, Thoughts of Bill Evans-Challenge 2001
Catchin' Some Rays (Music of RayCharles)Telarc 1997
Passion Dance- Telarc - 1996
Softly-Concord Records - 1994
Reaching for the Moon-CMG Records - 1991



Roseanna Vitro has toured the U.S. and over twenty-five countries around the world as a performer, clinician, recording artist, vocal instructor and ambassador, she has proven herself a reigning member of the jazz community. Her collaborations, covering a wide range of music and stylistic directions, have been cited and celebrated, far and wide.

• A U.S. Jazz Ambassador (sponsored by the U.S. State Dept. and The Kennedy Center & Jazz at Lincoln Center), -Masterclasses and Concerts in 2004 & 2009.

• Eleven critically acclaimed recordings for Telarc, Concord, Challenge and Half Note Records and now Motema Records!

• Inducted into Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame, with Bob Dorough and John Stubblefield, 1998.

• Chair of the Vocal Jazz Department at the New Jersey City University (NJCU), since 1998; faculty member of the Wachovia Jazz for Teens program at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), since 2000.

• Headlined at jazz's most prestigious venues, including The Blue Note and Lincoln Center in New York, and The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Currently touring and presenting workshops worldwide.
She is a soulful communicator, showcasing a thirst for swinging hard and possessing an ear for melodic invention. Her strengths include rhythmic acuity and free-spirited spontaneity, often heard in her improvisations, using both scat syllables and lyrics.
Ms. Vitro’s signature energy and grace can be heard on a host of recordings (twelve), notable among them, her breakout recording on Telarc (Passion Dance), which featured Elvin Jones, Christian McBride and longtime musical partner, Kenny Werner, and compelling tributes to Ray Charles (Catchin’ Some Rays), Bill Evans (Conviction), and Brazil (Tropical Postcards), The Delirium Blues Project: Serve or Suffer on Half Note Records, 2008- is a live, blues-based recording of jazz and pop repertoire featuring Kenny Werner’s arrangements and an all-star band of Kenny Werner, James Carter, Randy Brecker, Ray Anderson, Adam Rogers, John Patitucci, Rocky Bryant, Geoff Countryman.

New Release on Motema is the Music of Randy Newman!
The Randy Newman Project features the brilliant compositions of Randy Newman, re-imagined through the arrangements of pianist Mark Soskin. The music marries elements of jazz, blues, folk and country – a rich stew of influences illuminating Newman’s Americana. This group brings a high level of musicianship, improvisation and creativity to Newman’s inspired narratives - all defined and shaped by the vocal poignancy of Roseanna Vitro, a storyteller of great renown. Stellar violinist Sara Caswell - an emerging talent winning accolades - adds luster and musicality to the group sound. Rounding out the ensemble, bassist Dean Johnson, drummer Tim Horner.