Roberta Gambarini Biography

c. 1972, Torino, Italy. As a child Gambarini took clarinet lessons for some years but by her mid-teens was singing in local jazz clubs. At 18, she moved to Milan and attracted considerable attention appearing on radio in a jazz talent contest. She advanced her career playing jazz clubs and festivals throughout Italy and also appearing on record. In 1998, she began studying at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, USA, and almost at once finished third place in the annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition behind Teri Thornton and Jane Monheit. Although some singers, such as Monheit, have seen this contest open up a route to showbusiness fame and fortune, Gambarini remained solidly rooted in jazz, accepting the inevitable absence of acclaim outside the genre. Within the jazz community she has continued to develop her reputation with audiences and musicians alike. Among the latter with whom she has performed are Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Christian McBride, Toots Thielemans, Chucho Valdés and Jimmy Woode. Appearing with Gambarini on her 2006 release, Easy To Love, were pianist Tamir Hendelman, bass players Chuck Berghofer and John Clayton, drummers Willie Jones III and Joe LaBarbera and special guest, on tenor saxophone and additional vocals, James Moody, whom she had first encountered in Italy when she was aged 10. In that same year, she released an album with Hank Jones, Lush Life, which received special praise.

In the mid-00s, Gambarini appeared on record with the Pratt Brothers Big Band, and toured with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars Big Band under the direction of Slide Hampton. Although Gambarini usually presents familiar material, drawn from the Great American Song Book, she does so with verve and imagination applying her strong jazz feeling to both ballads and swingers.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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