This month I write of two singers who have little in common but are both well-worth seeing and hearing. The first is a resident musician of Toronto, the second a visitor from Turin, Italy.
Laura Hubert is an artist deserving of wider recognition, so it’s nice to see that she has three gigs at this year’s Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival. Formerly a founding member of Juno-winning rock act the Leslie Spit Treeo, Hubert’s powerful voice has a chameleonic quality. Her palette is rich with colours and shades: whether the song is sweet, bitter, saucy or dry, each interpretation is both artful and tasty. And then there are the songs themselves. Be it blues, western swing, torch song or novelty, Hubert fashions each with a style all her own. Supported by some of Toronto’s premium jazz musicians including musical director Peter Hill on piano, a night with the Laura Hubert Band is your best bet for entertainment. On June 22 the band celebrates Laura’s birthday and marks the end of a 10-year Monday night stand at Grossman’s Tavern, but will be moving to a new location for July. For gig listings visit www.laurahubert.com, song samples at www.myspace.com/thelaurahubertband.
Roberta Gambarini is one of the most celebrated jazz singers today. She sings in a manner reminiscent of late jazz royalty, particularly echoing the supple tone, flawless intonation and adventurous phrasing of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae, respectively. Born in Turin, she started out as a clarinet player and switched over to voice at 17. She has released two highly acclaimed recordings: the Grammy-nominated Easy to Love (2006) and an endearing album of duets with living jazz legend Hank Jones on piano. Roberta Gambarini will be performing as part of Art of Jazz (June 5-7) at the Distillery District on Sunday June 7, at 9:00pm at the Fermenting Cellar Stage. She will also be providing a vocal clinic on the afternoon of Saturday June 6. For tickets and more information visit www.artofjazz.org.