by Constance Tucker
One-part gypsy jazz, two parts sultry chanteuse and that my friends is the recipe we call Rondi Marsh. Backed by members of Pearl Django, this outing is smoking hot. Born and raised in Yakima, Washington, Marsh grew up surrounded by the majestic sights of rolling mountains but was influenced by the quickly growing metropolis around her. Marsh was acutely influenced by her mother, who sang in church and community choirs and her sister was an artist and classical singer. During her formative years, she studied tap, ballet, toe, baton, acrobats, and jazz dance. Her attention shifted in her early teens to music when she picked up her mother’s antique 1935 guitar. Almost immediately, she began writing songs and singing harmony with a childhood friend.
Fast forward, Marsh received her BA in Music Education and later earned a master’s degree in education. Her discography includes Cache (00), Thorny Bouquet (02), and The Journal (06). Now with the release of The Pink Room (18), the vocalist has come full swing featuring an eleven-song line up of ten well known pearls, and one original track penned by Marsh “Walk on Over.”
Though each tune has its own unique flavor and likeability, for the purpose of this review I am going to focus on “Mambo Italiano,” written by Bob Merrill, it reminded me of the golden days of Louis Prima and Keely Smith when their tune “Angelina” was a huge hit. The tune will transport you to Napoli and prime you for the Italiano traditions. Marsh has a wonderfully commanding alto voice, she navigates the colloquialisms of the lyric with ease as violinist Michael Gray adds just the right amount of spice to the sauce, and trumpeter Vince Beard hits the high notes with panache and bravura.
The Marsh original “Walk On Over,” is a mid-tempo swing that features band hits and worthy hooks that keep the feelgood vibes cooking. Marsh is soulful with a tint of country bite in her voice, lending to the gypsy sound, that shimmers in your mind long after the listen. As aforementioned, each tune has its own inimitable personality. It’s hard to choose a favorite, the glue to the entire project is Marsh’s voice, it connects each tune to the other in a seamless cohesive fashion. The overall theme of the album is that of joy. You can hear it in the notes, you can sense it in the material and you can certainly feel it between the musicians. Its like a great hang with your best friends at your favorite watering hole. It’s a keeper.