by Constance Tucker
Vocal Jazz is a genre that reaches far and wide and pleases audiences globally, so it is a natural fit that a Greek born young girl would find her desire to pursue the legacy of vocal jazz by moving to New York, taking countless lessons, spending hours of study to create a debut release with a cast of outstanding New York musicians known beyond the confines of the popular New York jazz scene was inevitable.
From the first notes you hear the continental sound infused by Goudinanki’s voice and the muscularity of the cavalcade of today’s stars. Nancy’s debut album, I Wanna Be Your Star features a stellar line-up of prominent NY jazz musicians. Her record is produced by renowned bass player Richie Goods. Grammy Nominated Pianist, Orrin Evans who arranged several of the compositions on this album and accompanied by three of New York’s finest jazz innovators- the phenomenal bassist Dwayne Burno (passed on in December 2013), soulful tenor saxophonist JD Allen and drummer Rudy Royston, guest appearances by vocalist, Miles Griffith, percussionist Daniel Sadownick and bassist Richie Goods make it all the more sweet. What is even more impressive is Goudinaki’s talents on acoustic nylon strung guitar. “Milonga” is well-played and Goudinaki soars on guitar, her eloquence and virtuosity is immediately evident. I know this is a vocal jazz review, but I had to mention it – because she truthfully is just that wonderful on guitar. Now back to our programming. Goudinaki has an airy light voice that commands wonderful control and good use of her head voice, her voice exudes femininity, which is a very pleasing virtue and makes her singing that much more appealing. On “Birds of Paradise” a Nancy G original, the listener is transported by the Latin rhythms and upbeat cheery melody. A standard “Just Friends” is augmented by guest vocalist Miles Griffith. The two have such ideally contrasting voices that the lilting voice of Goudinaki is underpinned by the masculine gravel of Griffith’s well-seasoned voice, and the result if magical. The title track “I Wanna Be Your Star” is an English translation of Goudinaki’s tune, written when she was 16 years old, which features Goudinaki on guitar and singing in her native tongue of Greek, giving the disc a further transnational sound. A wonderful debut release by a continental artist who I look forward to watching with each new release, my only comment is – next time, Nancy give us a balance of instrumental and vocal cuts, as you truly are quite talented on guitar too – and it would be very nice to have a full balance of both aspects of your jam-packed talents.