Angela Verbrugge: Love for Connoisseurs
The Canadian singer Angela Verbrugge declares her Love for Connoisseurs [of music] with one superb song after another on this, her gorgeous sophomore recording. Miss Verbrugge’s voice is now surely, one of the most beautiful in the lyric soprano range. The use of that operatic epithet to describe Miss Verbrugge’s style is certainly appropriate here, as she [Miss Verbrugge] fashions her narratives as a diva would, narrating a truly personal take on a story. The distance between a recitative and a show-tune or a jazzy song has almost certainly been bridged here.
As a lyricist Miss Verbrugge seems to have “learned” from the best: one senses the wit of Dave Frishberg, the glorious storytelling of Dorothy Fields and Johnny Mercer, and – all of that and a tinge of pathos that was the hallmark of songs by Cole Porter. However, make no mistake, these lyrics are singularly Miss Verbrugge’s. And what is [also] exceptional is Miss Verbrugge’s diction; you can hear every word without the need to refer to a booklet text; the singer’s vocals take care of all that.
Another interesting fact about this recording is that it is made up almost entirely of the work of contemporary song writers – musicians such as the pianist Ray Gallon, saxophonists Ken Fowser and Nick Hempton for instance. The lyrics that Miss Verbrugge has added to their music might easily qualify to be exquisite icing on a layered cake. The proverbial cherry atop each confection is, of course, the fact that Miss Verbrugge sings her part flawlessly.
Miss Verbrugge has also assembled a group of musicians who are fully attuned to her artistry and vision. Certainly the performances of saxophonist Dave Say, pianist Miles Black, the inimitable contrabassist Jodi Proznick and drummer Joel Fountain play with idiomatic ingenuity, judging tempos to a nicety, showing a keen response to swiftly changing moods. This is true of the entire recording. Howewer, the measure of this exquisite performance may best be experienced on Miss Verbrugge and Mr. Black’s take on Charlie Parker’s classic, Maybe Now’s the Time.
She plays [the songs’] characters to the hilt, inhabiting their skins so to speak. As a result, while telling these stories, her bright, clear soprano is both accurate and highly expressive. She brings nuanced meaning to key words in the lyrics and shapes lines with imagination and grace. Moreover Miss Verbrugge’s singing has a firmness, lyricism and powerfully communicative quality.
This is what gives each song a lived-in quality. This is also the kind of songwriting and singing that might easily have thrilled even that most discerning of critics: Alec Wilder.
Music – 1: Love for Connoisseurs; 2: Enough’s Enough; 3: This is Manhattan; 4: Je ne veux pas te dire bonsoir; 5: Cold and Hot Blues; 6: Corn on the Cob; 7: Mr. Right; 8: Jive Turkey; 9: Not Here, Not Now; 10: Twentieth Century Fox; 11: Quarantine; 12: Maybe Now’s the Time
Musicians – Angela Verbrugge: vocals; Dave Say: saxophones; Miles Black: piano; Jodi Proznick: contrabass; Joel Fountain: drums
Released – 2022
Label – Gut String Records [GSR 057]
Runtime – 49:48
YouTube Video – Angela Verbrugge: Love for Connoisseurs