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Gabriela Martina: States



Gabriela Martina: States
Gabriela Martina pours heart and soul into her finest recording: States

Anyone who had followed the upward arc of the vocal sensation who is Gabriela Martina will know what a sensational trajectory it has. The splendid vocalist has also developed into a fine composer and arranger she also is. However, this recording with an enigmatic title – States – is all about her vocalastics.

That word is the only one that can be used to described a style that starts where a lyric soprano does, then launches itself on either side of the range – from falsetto to mezzo – thanks in no small measure to the fact that Miss Martina is Swiss, something that also makes her an excellent yodeller.

The photograph of Gabriela Martina by J. Villa, CD cover design by Miss Martina

Nevertheless, Miss Martina’s is no ordinary hybrid style. She is actually one-of-a-kind, a priceless gift to the world of music. And this is why: The voice is rich, generous and vibrant, big but beautifully controlled, impeccably smooth throughout its various ranges. It’s the sort of instrument you could listen to all day, in any sort of repertoire.

She is an intelligent, sensitive musician too, and evidently a good programme-builder too. The manner in which the repertoire has been arranged on States is clearly proof of this mastery over composing, arranging and producing.

For instance, the pairing of her voice with the accordion of Ben Rosenblum may seem like a whimsical happenstance. But in reality it is a masterstroke to have the brilliant accordionist’s instrument wheeze and blend with the yodeling of Miss Martina on the exquisite song, The Circus. Who else would be able to create – and pull off – such a successful a musical high-wire act multi-tracking voice, yodeling and accordion?

And as if that were not enough Miss Martina goes one better on the following song, Soso, a mysterious suggestive and with an almost feral [Eden Ahbez-like] mystique heightened by the accordion, yodeling and a crepuscular melodic ostinato line from pianist Maxim Lubarsky. From there on the arrangements become more beautifully labyrinthine, changing colour and texture changing instrumentation [the roaring guitar of the chameleonic Jussi Reijonen].

There is a restlessness to this music that is affecting in a quite seductive way. Indeed, Miss Martina’s voice and the music it brings keeps the listener on the edge of his/her seat at all times and in a Valkyrian manner too. Her songs – roaring and fast, or elegiac and slow in tempo – are big and generous, backed by lively, rich and resonant accompaniments from all the performers – especially held together with the blood and thunder of bassist Kyle Miles and drummer Vancil Cooper.

Outstanding performances also come from spoken word artist Khrys Williams [Full Circle and Dreams], trumpeter Jason Palmer [Come On Home] and cellist Naseem Alatrash [on the especially beautiful and wistful song Unfold].

But the apogee of the recording, though, is Alpha Bird which is propelled by the motif from the Allegro Scherzando [Movement II] of the Concerto for Piano and Cello in G minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff. [This is a master-stroke]. Miss Martina pours her heart into this, her grandest and most beckoning songs.

All of the music on this recording is magnificent, but the amplitude and tonal generosity that Miss Martina unleashes in Alpha Bird, including a fearsome chest voice in the final bars are overwhelming. This is – in every way – a truly memorable disc, one to absolutely die for…

Deo gratis…

The highlight of states is ‘Alpha Bird’.

Music – 1. Full Circle; 2. Come On Home; 3. Alpha Bird; 4. The Circus; 5. Soso; 6. Dreams; 7. Unfold.

Musicians – Gabriela Martina: compositions, arrangements and voice; Maxim Lubarsky: piano and keyboards; Ben Rosenblum: accordion; Jussi Reijonen: acoustic and electric guitars; Kyle Miles: contrabass and electric bass; Vancil Cooper: drums. Special Guests – Jason Palmer: trumpet and flugelhorn [2]; Khrys Williams: spoken word [4, 6]; Naseem Alatrash: cello [7].

Released – 2024
Label – Independent
Runtime – 47:25

Based in Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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