The Reviews Are In!
Allen Morrison for Downbeat Magazine ~ November 2017 issue
Laura Campisi is something else, an unusual jazz vocalist/songwriter from Palermo, Sicily, by way of New York City, with avant-garde leanings. On her debut album she attempts something fairly daring: singing against a stark background of electric bass and drums. While the great Sheila Jordan and a few others have sung and recorded in vocal/bass duos, a vocal trio of this sort, without a chordal instrument to cushion the vocalist, is a tricky format that calls to mind piano-less saxophone trios. For the singer, it’s like working without a net and requires, among other things, collaborating closely with the bassist to suggest the harmonic changes. Fortunately, Campisi pulls it off, thanks to her sweet-toned, sturdy voice, precise pitch, lilting delivery and first-rate support from two duos: Ameen Saleem on bass and the estimable Greg Hutchinson on drums; and the Italian duo of Gianluca Renzi on electric bass and Flavio Li Vigni on drums. Campisi is well known as a singer of Sicilian songs; she has also gained experience singing jazz in Europe, America and South America. On this album, she sings seven of her own moody, interesting compositions and an eclectic mix of standards (Porter, Gershwin) and contemporary pop (Björk, Jeff Buckley and even Lou Reed’s “Venus In Furs”). Her takes on “Love For Sale” and “I Loves You, Porgy” and Björk’s “Hyperballad” are worth hearing, as are her own compositions, which range from introspective to sexy to surreal.
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Click on the image to see the Nov. 2017 issue of Downbeat Magazine
Find Double Mirror's review on page 68!
Michael Doherty's Music Log
Michael Doherty ~ November 24, 2017
Laura Campisi is a talented jazz vocalist and songwriter based in New York, though originally from Sicily. Her debut album, Double Mirror, is a wonderful collection of original material and intriguing covers. Backing her on this CD are Ameen Saleem on double bass, Gianluca Renzi on electric bass, Greg Hutchinson on drums and Flavio Li Vigni on drums. Yup, the music is basically just bass and drums supporting her voice, though there are guest musicians on certain tracks.
The CD opens with an original song titled “Chorus Angelorum.” I love the loose and immediate sound of just vocals, bass, and drums. It’s a very cool sound and approach, and works to pull us into the world of the song. The lines that stood out for me the first time I listened to this disc are “Snow should be falling/And you here with me.” Winter is approaching, though not here in L.A., where it’s eighty degrees. But whatever the temperature, I am feeling the end of the year approaching, and I am missing that someone special. This song features a good lead on bass. Laura follows that with a cover of Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale.” It begins as almost spoken word, giving us the feeling she really is out on the street, selling her wares, working to gather a crowd of potential buyers around her. The song then takes on a funky, jazzy vibe, and features some absolutely delightful work by guest musician Zach Brock on violin, as well as more great work on bass. I don’t recall ever hearing a version quite like this one, and I seriously dig it.
Giovanni Falzone then joins Laura on trumpet on “Luckier,” an original composition. “I know nothing about the rules of life/And I haven’t yet found any answers/But I have seen many moons shining.” Ah, with the great, delicious sound of this track, it seems knowing the rules of life is unnecessary, irrelevant. At times Laura’s voice takes on a sweetness, and the trumpet certainly has an attitude all its own, which I love. This song also features some excellent and expressive percussion, helping to make it one of my favorites.
Laura Campisi delivers an intriguing rendition of Miles Davis’ “Nardis,” featuring lyrics that she added. Though at first her voice is used in an unusual way; it’s not quite scat, but almost like an animal or infant, someone communicating emotions without words. And her lyrics emerge naturally from that, delivered with the same excitement and wonder as the non-words. It’s kind of wonderful. “They say if it’s your lucky day/You will see Nardis coming your way.” What exactly is Nardis, anyway? This is a strange track. She also covers “I Loves You, Porgy,” giving a sultry, beautiful vocal performance. I’ve said it before, but you can never go wrong with Gershwin.
“Here Where I Stand” is a very cool track, an original tune with pop elements and a fantastic lead on saxophone that is powerful, almost reckless in its urgency and drive. That’s Martin Pantyrer on baritone sax. Laura Campisi’s vocal line is just as exciting as the saxophone. If forced to pick an absolute favorite track on this disc, this would be it. You should definitely check it out. She follows that with a strange take on the Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs.” Her delivery is kind of cute, adorable, at least at first. Venus In Furs is a book I love. I’ve seen half a dozen film versions but none of them have quite gotten it right. But where the films generally fail, this song always seemed to work. Laura’s rendition doesn’t have that haunting quality of the original, but is intriguing in its own way, and builds gradually so that suddenly you find yourself immersed in it. And then there is some wonderful work on bass. This version ends suddenly on a strong note.
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L'isola della musica italiana (Italy)
Andrea Romeo ~ November 2017
E’ necessario sgombrare subito il campo da qualsiasi dubbio: Laura Campisi è si nata a Palermo, dove ha studiato e si è avvicinata alla musica, e si è poi trasferita a New York, dove i suoi studi hanno trovato uno sbocco professionale ed artistico, ha cantato e canta nei più importanti jazz club e circoli culturali newyorkesi, ha composto sette delle tredici tracce che compongono il suo debut-album, Double Mirror, ma qualsiasi tipo di luogo comune sull’idea di “emigrante” risulterebbe, in questo caso, davvero fuori luogo.
Double Mirror è il titolo, quindi, ovvero doppio specchio, proprio perché le realtà raffigurate, e che si riflettono all’interno di questo lavoro sono esattamente quelle dei due luoghi di appartenenza, vissuti entrambi intensamente ed altrettanto intensamente interiorizzati e metabolizzati. Nessun senso di fuga o di allontanamento, quindi, proprio perché la cantante palermitana, diciamo così, non “galleggia” fra le due realtà senza sentire o capire a quale delle due appartenere, tutt’altro: appartiene, perché in esse si è immersa profondamente, ad entrambe, e lo ha fatto facendole proprie.
Questo eclettismo geografico si riflette, non a caso, nelle tracce realizzate per questo lavoro, all’interno delle quali non possono certo non essere notate e citate Venus in furs e Mojo pin, due brani non solo famosi di per sè, ma che riverberano, proprio per la storia dei loro due autori, Lou Reed e Jeff Buckley, il primo nato ed il secondo trasferitosi a New York, alcuni aspetti molto intimi di questa realtà urbana e culturale. In questo senso, ed in quest’ottica duplice, l’aggancio con l’Europa “non italiana” è rappresentato da Hyperballad di Björk, caratterizzata peraltro dall’intro chiaramente “tenchiana”, ma soprattutto da un basso elettrico ondivago, ed in un certo senso ipnotico, il cui medesimo approccio si ritrova poco più avanti anche in Nardis. Laura Campisi, ed i musicisti che collaborano con lei e che, tra l’altro, provengono da paesi differenti, aggiungono la loro esperienza nell’ambito della musica folk e jazz di derivazione europea e sudamericana, ed il fatto che la cantante sia anche una studiosa della musica tradizionale siciliana, completa ulteriormente questo variegato puzzle sonoro. Ogni tessera si inserisce al suo posto, e questo perché la musica è, di per sé, un linguaggio unificante ed inclusivo; nonostante questa mescolanza, però, il disegno che viene fuori è definito, e lo è in ogni dettaglio.
Una voce molto profonda, penetrante, intensa, un originale ed assai creativo utilizzo della sezione ritmica, sia con il contrabbasso che, in misura forse ancora maggiore, con il basso elettrico, soprattutto per le scelte metriche e timbriche, gli strumenti a fiato, le percussioni ed il violino, che caratterizzano in maniera significativa i brani in cui intervengono, ed all’interno dei quali assumono un ruolo assolutamente centrale. Tanti, dunque, i luoghi fisici “di appartenenza” che si tramutano, di fatto, in un eclettismo musicale davvero notevole, a tratti quasi estremo, e capace di attrarre l’attenzione anche dell’ascoltatore meno “addentro” alle segrete cose del jazz, proprio perchè l’interpretazione stessa del concetto di jazz è decisamente ampia, e ricca di una interessante dose di sperimentazione.
Il fatto che, anche la critica statunitense sia stata estremamente positiva nei confronti di questo lavoro non è affatto un caso e questo perché ogni brano è una scoperta, riserva sorprese e propone stimoli e suggestioni differenti ed inaspettate: non poco davvero.
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La Repubblica (Italy)
Laura Campisi "Il mio album a New York"
Lucio Luca ~ October 14, 2017
Un doppio specchio per trovare l'equilibrio interiore e guardare la realtà a 360 gradi. Laura Campisi, giovane jazz singer palermitana che da sei anni ha scelto di vivere cantando a New York, ci ha lavorato per molto tempo: «Pure troppo, ma alla fine sono contenta del risultato. Il primo disco non si scorda mai, è come un figlio. E mica puoi sbagliare quando fai un bimbo, no? Specialmente se ogni giorno ti tocca sfidare la città più bella e più difficile del mondo: la Grande Mela è uno stato d'animo, ti rapisce come nessun'altra, è impossibile non innamorarsene. Io sono venuta qui per tre settimane, volevo provare a cantare anche dall'altra parte della luna: da quel momento non l'ho più lasciata ».
"Double Mirror", il doppio specchio appunto, è il titolo dell'album di esordio di Laura Campisi che dopo centinaia di serate nei più prestigiosi jazz club di New York ha finalmente coronato il suo sogno. Grazie anche al video del singolo "Morningside", scritto ad Harlem, realizzato a Roma con le foto di paesaggi siciliani e curato nei minimi dettagli dal fratello Simone: «L'abbiamo postato su un sito di crowdfunding ed è piaciuto così tanto che abbiamo raccolto quasi cinquemila dollari. Tredici tracce, sette scritte da me, la promozione sui social, i video su YouTube. Questo album, realizzato tra l'altro con una formazione mai usata prima da una vocalist - il doppio trio con due sezioni ritmiche, due bassi e due batterie - ha vissuto diverse disavventure ma il fatto di averlo pubblicato in maniera del tutto indipendente mi rende molto orgogliosa. E poi, ho dato una bella soddisfazione ai miei genitori».
Già, perché Laura non ha mai dimenticato la sua Palermo, mamma Luisa e papà Nello che le hanno fatto amare la musica fin da bambina: «Assieme ai loro amici avevano messo su un gruppo di musica popolare siciliana, Aziz si chiamava, qualche volta accompagnavano anche Rosa Balistreri. Non c'era festa in cui non si imbracciavano le chitarre per cantare fino all'alba. Mio padre capì subito che per me era un bel gioco e mi spinse a prendere qualche lezione. Da lì è iniziato tutto. "Double Mirror" è dedicato a mamma e papà, glielo dovevo».
Rosa Balistreri è l'altra passione di Laura che alla grande cantante folk siciliana ha dedicato anche sua tesi di laurea in Discipline della Musica: «Da sempre canto il jazz e le ballate popolari, amo Rosa e Billie Holiday, a New York ho persino collaborato con la comunità pachistana provando a mescolare i canti della tradizione siciliana con le melodie Panjabi. La musica è sperimentazione continua, è un linguaggio internazionale che unisce i popoli e farlo qui, nella città più cosmopolita del mondo, è un grande privilegio ».
È lo spirito con cui la Campisi ha cominciato tanti anni fa prima con il suo gruppo, Lalla into the garden, poi da solista. I primi concorsi internazionali, la vittoria al Lucca Jazz Donna del 2009, poi l'anno successivo al prestigioso "Bianca d'Aponte" di Aversa: «Mi presentai sul palco tutta vestita di viola, il colore "proibito" per gli artisti. No, non sono scaramantica e infatti quella volta vinsi».
Il trasferimento in America era ormai nell'aria. «Avevo solo un contatto, quello di Cinzia Spata, la sorella della mia prima insegnante di canto. Cinzia mi diede qualche dritta, mi presentò a un paio di suoi amici musicisti, mi portò nei locali del Greenwich Village, il Kitano, il Bar Next Door, lo Zeb's. Chi conosce New York e mastica jazz sa che sono i templi della musica afroamericana. Decisi di provarci e oggi, ogni volta che canto in quei posti magici, mi pare ancora di sognare».
A Palermo torna spesso e quando le capita di esibirsi è sempre un successo: «Adesso non vedo l'ora di far sentire ai miei amici siciliani le canzoni del disco. Anche perché "Double Mirror" è un po' la storia della mia vita. Il cuore diviso a metà fra Italia e Stati Uniti, le influenze culturali dei "miei" due paesi, la voglia di provare nuove emozioni grazie alla musica che resterà sempre il più grande amore della mia vita. Anche per questo adoro il jazz, la libertà di potersi esprimere fuori da ogni regola, il legame che si crea fra gli artisti. "Double Mirror" è tutto questo e chissà quant'altro. Sì, sono felice: si capisce? ».
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October 2017 issue
Singer/song writer LAURA CAMPISI is a Sicilian by birth but now lives in New York. Her debut CD is DOUBLE MIRROR a 2017 recording with backing from a double trio [Ameen Saleem -b, Gianluca Renzi- e.b, Greg Hutchinson-drm, Flavio Li Vigni-drm] on 13 tunes [50:48] (7 are Campisi originals). Campisi is a dramatic singer coaxing lyrics with whoops and hollers, a bit like Urszula Dudziak. She takes liberties with the music, “Nardis” is almost unrecognizable, but maintains musical interest and integrity. She brings along a series of guests for 6 of the tracks (1 guest apiece on 6 cuts). Guest Zach Brock’s violin work is brilliant on “Love For Sale” and Martin Pantyrer’s bari is impressive on “Here Where I Stand”. A very interesting and notable release which would benefit from a lyric print out.
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Pop Culture Classics
Paul Freeman ~ August 1, 2017
Campisi has a vocal style all her own and it’s quite captivating. Originally from Palermo, Sicily, now based in New York City, she has an approach that’s not mired in tradition. This enables her to create completely fresh-sounding, yet oh-so-right interpretations of such standards as “I Love You, Porgy” and “Love For Sale.” The debut album smoothly glides from jazz to folk to rock to hip-hop to Italian flavors. Her original compositions hold their own with songs penned by Bjork, Miles Davis, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Lou Reed and Jeff Buckley. And Campisi’s gently exciting, endlessly evocative vocalizing makes each track memorable.
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Music Pen Club (Japan)
Keizo Takada (translated from Japanese) ~ August 2017
Laura Campisi is a singer songwriter from Sicily, Italy. Many non-American jazz vocalists take the time and go to great lengths to blend their cultural heritage with jazz. Laura, who now resides in New York City, is no exception. This debut album is the result of years of developing her musical ideas. Seven out of thirteen tracks are original songs depicting a musician’s life as a foreigner — stories of her artistic and private life, backed by a double rhythm sections — Italian and American, and joined by trumpet and saxophone. One will find many unexpected gems such as "Love for Sale" over a funky beat, or Miles’ "Nardis" set with her own original words. Though rooted in jazz, she sings with a fresh young lady’s voice. With her unique music which crosses over many genres, Laura Campisi is well worth watching out for.
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Mark S. Tucker ~ July 27, 2017
What imbues Double Mirror with a touch of budding artistic genius was Laura Campisi's decision to just frame the structure of each cut and then unleash the musicians to do as they felt appropriate, which released a spate of wild almost ungovernable forces resulting in primal colorations, strikingly offbeat melodics, and deep emotions that would have been impossible otherwise. Should I mention that Mirror is Campisi’s debut release? It’s true, and her opting for trust in her backing band‘s aesthetic celerities embedded her chanteusing in a matrix of contrasts, emphases, and contours that release her own jazz-drenched vocals to follow suit.
Extremely impressive is the dual-pronged attack of Ameen Saleem’s deep-throated contrabass in combination with Gianlucca Renzi’s electric bass overlaid. The effect is magnetic, enthralling, overpowering. Campisi’s take on Miles Davis’ “Nardis” is given over to Meredith Monkeries succeeded by a sassy knowing naif’s recitations, as though Alice had re-emerged from the Looking Glass drunk on the Mad Hatter’s tea (say, what exactly did that crazed crafter of chapeaus brew his concoction from anyway?) and as free as the wind. On the other hand, her cover of “I Loves You, Porgy“ is sensitive, romantic, and wistful, the bass wizards dialed back to envelop the ambience.
Campisi penned most of the cuts here, and her “Here Where I Stand” is a sunblast of élan, vigor, and free-spiritedness, a short 3:14 but it’ll set you back, blinking. The following “Venus in Furs” (Lou Reed’s gig, of course) is a Hell’s Kitchen “Streetcar Named Desire” mini-drama of the Everyday traipsing through a spunky middle-class borough. It ends beautifully: just suddenly clatterously crashes to a dead stop. Her own closing cut, “Morningside”, is an almost a capella synched tune with just a very soft drum beat as accompaniment, delivered straight and sweet, a kiss for you as a reward for making it through the tumult of the riotous urban jungle of Double Mirror back to the straight and narrow.
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An award-winning songwriter and jazz singer based out in New York City, Laura has performed with various musical ensembles throughout Europe, America and Canada, and continues to produce a wide range of music: from Jazz and Folk, to the traditional Sicilian repertoire as well as Italian and Mediterranean songs. She also writes original compositions in English, Italian and Sicilian, and sings in Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Punjabi, Sicilian and Neapolitan.
Laura’s story is featured in the book Dall’altra parte della luna (On The Other Side of The Moon) by journalist Lucio Luca, a recollection of interviews to Sicilians who made their ways in the United States. She has been a guest at many radio and TV shows both in American and Italy. Laura is an expert of Sicilian musical tradition; she is a voice teacher and a musical clinician, with a Bachelor Degree in Musical Arts.
The ensemble is Laura Campisi – vocals, Ameen Saleem – double bass, Gianluca Renzi – electric bass, Greg Hutchinson – drums, and Flavio Li Vigni – drums, with special guests Zach Brock – violin, Giovanni Falzone – trumpet, Jonathan Scales – steel pan, Martin Pantyrer – baritone sax, Vincent Herring – alto sax, and Emilio D. Miller – Life-threatening percussion!
The tracks are Chorus Angelorum, Love For Sale, Luckier, Hyperballad, Ironman, Nardis, The More You Know, I Love Your Porgy, Here Where I Stand, Venus In Furs, Mojo Pin, Al risveglio, and Morningside.
A fine mixture of original compositions by Campisi and excerpts from the Great American Songbook and more. Listen up and be ready for something rich and new!
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All About Jazz
C. Michael Bailey ~ July 13, 2017
Pushing the creative envelope is a sure way to both stir interest in a project and promote progression within an art form. Vocalist and jazz raconteur Laura Campisi wastes exactly zero time doing both on Double Mirror. Whether the singer is stripping down things on her own compositions, like the wan "Chorus Angelorum" or her daring, if not heretical, "Love For Sale," Campisi refuses to leave things has he found them, a practice from which jazz (an all music) typically benefits. Regarding the Cole Porter classic, Campisi turns the 1930 show tune (The New Yorkers) into a hip hop loop fantasy. Campisi does a Meredith Monkon Miles Davis' "Nardis," sparing with a beautifully ill-behaved band, while flinging the tune into a creative singularity. On Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy," the singer tinkers with every aspect of the composition, revealing some impressive bones highlighted by Gianluca Renzi's electric bass. All music needs those who not merely think outside the box, but stomp it flat and, thus, taking an entirely different, and unexpected, path. Her is to the musical pioneers!
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All About Jazz
Jerome Wilson ~ July 7, 2017
Contemporary jazz vocalists tend to fall into two camps, those who follow the jazz singer tradition of Ella, Billie, Sarah and the other icons and those who experiment with their sound and repertoire. The latter group includes people like Elizabeth Shepherd, Katie Bull and Rebecca Martin. Laura Campisi is another name you can add to that list.
Campisi is originally from Palermo, Sicily but now makes her home in New York City. Her music draws from jazz, soul, hip hop and rock with a fluid approach that changes from track to track on this CD. Part of her unique sound stems from the makeup of her backing band which contains two drummers and both electric and acoustic bass, a combination that leads to all sorts of differing textures, like the rolling percussive sway of "Luckier" accented by Giovanni Falzone's sassy trumpet and the hushed swoon of Björk's "Hyperballad" where Gianluca Renzi's undulating electric bass stands out.
The songs here are a mix of familiar standards, Campisi's original compositions and rock tunes from Lou Reed, Jeff Buckley and the aforementioned Bjork. Campisi's voice is mostly an intimate, girlish coo capable of projecting great drama and it is flexible enough to ride a variety of rhythms like the mysterious electric bass and steel pan weave of "Ironman" and the audacious go-go beat of "Love For Sale" which also features the strutting violin of Zach Brock.
"Nardis" starts as an abstracted collision of plucked and bowed basses, tumbling percussion and dramatic recitation before it swoops into an elaborate, Mideastern treatment of the familiar theme. On "Here Where I Stand" Campisi is chatty and carefree over an alternately flowing and heavy rock beat laid down by the two drummers and baritone saxophonist Martin Pantyrer. Lou Reed's creepy S&M classic "Venus In Furs" gets an unusually fast-paced treatment with Renzi's springy bass complementing Campisi's busy vocal and Jeff Buckley's "Mojo Pin" moves between quiet brooding and rocky swagger with Campisi singing at her most forceful. The singer's own"Al Risveglio" has a drawling, dreamy sound with Campisi singing quietly over the basses and Vincent Herring's soulful alto sax in the trance-inducing manner of a singer like Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval.
Laura Campisi is an unique singer with a really eclectic approach to music. She achieves a lot with basically just creative use of bass and drums and a wide imagination. Her music is gorgeous, energetic and daring. She deserves a really wide hearing.
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El Intruso (Argentina)
Sergio Piccirilli (translated from Spanish) ~ July 7, 2017
"The Stage of the Mirror (Le stade du miroir, in French) is a psychoanalytic concept elaborated by Jacques Lacan in 1936 that describes the stage in which the child begins to perceive in the mirror his complete body image. In this phase, according to the Lacanian theory, the child is placed for the first time in a symbolic universe - because what he recognizes in the mirror is not him, but an image of him - and begins to develop the function of the self as a psychic instance.
The symbolic importance attached to the mirrors will be extended in later stages of life; In adolescence, the reflected image generates the dichotomy between choosing to be oneself or rehearsing identities of social belonging and then, in adulthood, that reflection in the mirror will confront seeing us as we are or we believe that we are with what we want to be, so that We can develop a process of acceptance of our own being.
The valuable symbolism implicit in the action of being recognized in a mirror, manifests itself in an irreversible way in the exquisite debut album of the Italian singer and composer Laura Campisi materialized with Double Mirror.
This "Double Mirror" referred to by Campisi in the album title, aims to represent the complex inner life of an artist who feels the need to reconcile the reflection of the images that come from her native Sicily with those acquired in New York City , Where she currently resides.
The creative process of this project demanded several years of sedimentation and elaboration and had a development of international scope. Strictly speaking, the core principles of Double Mirror were conceived when the composer still lived in Italy, the first tracks were recorded in New York in 2012 and - after a prolonged recess - the project was revived in Buenos Aires at the request of the composer and Argentine producer Emilio D. Miler, to take definitive form.
In the words of Campisi herself: "The double mirror is the search for balance, it is the recognition that my heart is divided between my art and real life, between Europe and America and the reflection of my dual nature: strong and weak, Determined and lazy, passionate and fearful. "
That duality game involving the album's name also encompasses the eclectic repertoire chosen - where there are original compositions with versions of subjects extracted from the Great American Songbook and songs from pop - and an instrumentation structured on the basis of a double rhythmic section or Double trio made up of Italian musicians such as bassist Gianluca Renzi and drummer Flavio Li Vigni and Americans Ameen Saleem on bass and Greg Hutchinson on drums.
Double Mirror brings together musical influences ranging from jazz, as a central element, to vestiges of traditional Sicilian music, with introspective and self-referential lyrics that narrate the stories of an artist who questions and tries to understand her place in the world.
From the opening with Chorus Angelorum, Laura Campisi imposes the warmth of her voice, variety of nuances and an appreciable musicality to bestow on her the introspective philosophical existentialism contained in the texts. The choral treatment of the piece - whose successful effects were obtained by singing inside a gong - are underlined by a well-developed instrumental development in which the percussive accents of Greg Hutchinson and the protean work of Ameen Saleem on bass excel.
Then, with surprising authority, she tackles a version of the classic Cole Porter Love for Sale. In origin, this song - from the Broadway musical The New Yorkers of 1930 - was written from the perspective of a prostitute, but Campisi uses that argument to reflect on love in modern times. The singular optics adopted is extrapolated to a bubbling musical story that amalgamates the spirit of the original with the stimulating modernity of funk. In that context will have special emphasis the expressive vocal treatment offered by Campisi and the balanced contributions of Ameen Saleem in double bass and Zack Brock in violin.
In the seductive vivacity of the original Luckier one breathes an atmosphere with a New Orleans tradition, from whose folds emerges an instrumental passage of commendable precision crowned by the solo exhibition of Giovanni Falzone in trumpet.
Next they deliver a very personal version of the theme of Bjork -extracted from the album Post of 1995- Hyperballad. A brief introduction in Italian, the intimate treatment assigned to the main melodic line, the brilliant performances by Gianluca Renzi on electric bass and Flavio Li Vigni on drums and an ascending shot of measured lyricism will converge. The veiled nuances and spacious contours of Ironman will be defined by the effective vocal ornaments of Laura Campisi and The peculiar sonority that prints the metal drums (steelpan) of Jonathan Scales.
Nardis is a composition of Miles Davis written in 1958 - during his stage of modal jazz - for the album Portrait of Cannonball of Cannonball Adderley, but that soon would become a classic of the repertoire of Bill Evans. Laura Campisi builds a version of her own style with courage and indisputable authority, incorporating texts of her authorship loaded with interiority and creating an accomplished structural scaffolding in which ingenious contrasts between the electric bass of Gianluca Renzi and the bass of Ameen Saleem with the drums of Greg Hutchinson and Flavio Li Vigni.
After the Afro-Latin temperament that distills The More You Know, there will come an austere and introspective recreation of George & Ira Gershwin's classic I Loves You, Porgy. The reflective intimacy in the treatment of this piece - pertaining to the opera Porgy and Bess of 1935 and that was interpreted in its original version by the singers Anne Brown and Todd Duncan - will locate in the center of the scene the electric bass of Gianluca Renzi and The voice of Laura Campisi.
The sparkling soundtrack of the enchanting Here Where I Stand will be dictated by its eloquent rhythmic impulses and the remarkable - and leading - intervention of Martin Pantyrer in baritone sax.
Venus in Furs is a composition by Lou Reed included in the debut album of The Velvet Underground of 1967: The Velvet Underground & Nico. This song, which at the time was considered transgressive by the link with alternative sexual practices and its theme associated with sadomasochism, is here completely reformulated by a delicate and austere vocal and instrumental treatment.
In the emotional introspection of Mojo Pin - song belonging to Jeff Buckley, included in the album Grace of 1994 - will prevail in exclusive form the vocal contributions of Laura Campisi and the solo contribution of Gianluca Renzi in electric bass.
On the end will happen the originals Al risveglio and Morningside; The first of them offering an affable melodic line and certain attachment to the jazz ballad - emphasized by the intervention in alto sax of Vincent Herring - and the second adopting forms near a lullaby or lullaby and with the voice of Laura Campisi like principal protagonist.
The image reflected in the album debut of Laura Campisi, with the album Double Mirror, shows an intelligent singer, talented and determined to share its complex and fascinating inner world."
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Contemporary Fusion Reviews
Dick Metcalf ~ July 1, 2017
When I opened the promo sheet and saw the word unconventional in the header, I wasn’t positive if Laura could live up to the imagery that word paints for me, but when I heard her spoken-word intro to “Love For Sale“, I knew the promoter wasn’t “over-hyping” Laura’s unique set of skills… this is a totally “out” version of the song, yet her unique approach to the words and rhythms will hold your ears spellbound (for those who don’t know, I got my own start in spoken-word performance here in my hometown of Olympia, Washington)! Though she’s lived in NYC for some time now, her Italian background (she’s originally from Palermo, Sicily) puts her in a league of high-talent artists from that area of the world that I’ve been reviewing over the last year. Since this is a pre-release version I’m reviewing, you probably won’t find samples available on AMAZON or CD BABY yet, but you can check out her personal message about the debut CD on YouTube:
Isn’t that totally cool? Also, Laura has posted samples at her website, so you can “try before you buy”… her sweet vocal on “Venus in Furs” places her in the ultra-cool arena… I couldn’t help but think that she sounds like a 21st Century version of Ricki Lee Jones or Joni Mitchell as I listened to this tasty tune.
My personal favorite of the thirteen songs offered up is the totally intriguing “Nardis”… it’s not like any other tune you’ve listened to in a while, I’ll guarantee that, and that’s exactly why I give her a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 4.99. Get more information about this album and her other projects on Laura’s website.
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Bruce Crowther ~ June 17, 2017
Now resident in New York City, Laura Campisi was born in Palermo, Sicily, which is where she first sang professionally. Not long after arriving in America, Laura began absorbing into her music the rich cultural essence of her new surroundings while never losing her native origins. All of this is reflected here through repertoire and performance. There are seven of Laura’s own songs here as well as songs by Björk, Jeff Buckley, Miles Davis (with Laura adding lyrics to his Nardis), the Gershwins, Cole Porter, and Lou Reed. The singer’s interest in diverse musical traditions is apparent through her interpretations. Unusually and effectively, Laura chooses not to have a pianist among her instrumental collaborators, relying instead on bass and drums, with an added horn on some tracks. The core duo on some tracks is American: Ameen Saleem, acoustic bass and Greg Hutchinson, drums; on others Italian: Gianluca Renzi, electric bass and Flavio Li Vigni, drums. Appearing on one track each are Vincent Herring, alto saxophone on Al Risveglio; Giovanni Falzone, trumpet on Luckier; Jonathan Scales, steel pan on Ironman; Zach Brock, violin on Love For Sale; and Martin Pantyrer, baritone saxophone on Here Where I Stand. The overall effect has a minimalistic air that helps bring the lyrics and the stories they tell into sharp focus. Some of the music played and sung leans toward contemplation on love lost and found and there are also songs that reflects the role of the artist in the wider world. These qualities are revealed in the album’s title as explained by Laura: “Everyone needs a mirror to look into, to recognize themselves, to see their flaws and good qualities as they really are. The double mirror is the search for balance. It is the acknowledgment that my heart is divided between my art and real life, between Europe and America. The double mirror reflects my dual nature, strong and weak, determined and lazy, passionate and afraid.” Laura’s lightly youthful vocal sound is very pleasing, yet there is also an underlying maturity in her understanding of the lyrics she interprets. On Chorus Angelorum (Choir Of Angels) she intriguingly creates a shimmering effect by singing against a gong. Although her linguistic skills are not fully on display here, Laura sings not only in Italian (including Sicilian and Neapolitan dialects) and English, but also in Spanish, Portuguese and French. She can also sing in Punjabi, an ability that has come through her musical collaboration with New York’s Pakistani cultural community. Laura’s work on Double Mirror started in New York in 2012, but was then shelved until 2016 when she returned to it in collaboration with Argentine composer and producer Emilio D. Miler, further tracks being recorded in Buenos Aires. A very interesting singer whose work will have international appeal.
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DeeDee McNeil ~ June 13, 2017
She has a little-girl, high-pitched voice that sounds innocent and vulnerable. Campisi’s style is unique and recognizable. She sings with a distinct foreign accent; one that I could not readily identify. On cut #3, Giovanni Falzone’s trumpet addition is sometimes dissonant to Campisi’s melody. His horn growls passionately in the background during his muted performance. Nevermind! Campisi is strong in her projection and pitch. She can hold her own. “Double Mirror” is her artistic debut, a recorded venture featuring her voice and songwriting skills. Her original concept was to keep the production simple and use just a trio for accompaniment, but she changed her mind. To reflect her new life, she uses two rhythm sections; one American and the other Italian. The trumpet, sax and violin players came later.
I learn, from the CD notes, that Laura Campisi arrived in New York City from Palermo, Sicily in Italy. She sings and speaks in English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Sicilian, Neapolitan and Punjabi. Impressive! However, I wish she had included her lyrics in her CD packaging, because I cannot always understand her words. I reach for my headphones to listen more intently. She has composed seven of thirteen songs featured on this recording. I’m enchanted with the World Music arrangements and her sparkling, crystal clean vocals that tinkle and spray the room with improvised sounds and lyrical stories. For example, on cut #8, “Nardis”, she mimics wild birds and restless animals before giving us spoken word over drums and bass. Enter a classical-sounding, electric bass and her song begins. She’s singng in tribute to “Nardis”, a miles Davis composition. After listening to her rendition, I played the Miles Davis arrangement featuring Hank Jones on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums. It was recorded ‘Live’ at the Village Vanguard and It’s miles away from her interpretation. On her recording, Campisi and the bass and drums play tag with their instruments, chasing each other playfully. Shei tells us it’s our lucky day because we are going to meet Nardis, who is like an ocean shore. As she begins calling him, the groove is set up and finally, after a prolonged introduction, she sings the Miles Davis melody, one time down and then it’s over.
On “I Love You Porgy” she performs with upright bass, electric bass guitar and drums, strutting her voice out front like a reed instrument. Laura Campisi incorporates jazz into a World Music Stage. Her music reflects her Italian roots, her love of Mediterranean influences and she spices it up with the South American music of Argentina. You see, she recorded her vocals in Buenos Aires, where she added stellar new Latin players to this project. Her rendition of the popular “Porgy” Nina Simone hit record is very emotional and she makes it uniquely her own.
Listening to this project, I hear shades of Rock and Folk music. The jazz comes in as an interplay between her band members, who find freedom improvising over her original chord changes and her vocals. Of course, improvisation is one of the most important elements of jazz, but I’m not sure this CD falls completely into the jazz category. On more recognizable and familiar tunes like “Love For Sale,” you can hear Campisi’s extraordinary ability to change the familiar into the unexpected.
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Chris Spector ~ June 3, 2017
Originally hailing from Sicily, is she a fount of Euro sensibility or an art chick? She's a rising, important part of the Italian jazz scene in New York so let's go with Euro? Putting Gershwin on the same disc as Lou Reed and a bunch of originals, as well as letting you know in the liner notes she's a tad moody, she knows well how to deliver the pomo chanteuse thing well. Hipster cocktail music, moldy figs will probably pass it by while kids that dress like train engineers will probably find her a dream date.
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The Art Music Lounge
Lynn René Bayley ~ June 2, 2017
Laura Campisi is an Italian-American jazz singer who was born in Sicily. This is her debut release, and although she doesn’t have a conventional singing voice (as, for instance, Sophie Dunér does) she has a great sense of style. She uses her voice like an instrument, moving it around the beat in a manner similar to Sheila Jordan. So much is evident in the opening track, her self-composed Chorus Angelorum in which she duets with acoustic bassist Ameen Saleem to nice effect. In the second number, Cole Porter’s classic Love for Sale, she completely reworks the song rhythmically, introducing a strong feeling of funk jazz and upping the temperature by a few degrees.
Saleem is really an outstanding bassist, supporting the singer, following her through whatever changes she chooses and providing some outstanding solos both plucked and bowed. Violinist Zach Brock gives the Porter song a bit of a Stuff Smith or Ray Nance interpretation, which lifts it out of the ordinary.
As you can see from the above header, seven of the 13 songs are originals. Campisi is a good tune writer, finding attractive melodies which she then sets to unusual rhythms. My only real caveat was about her English pronunciation, which is good but not quite clear enough for me to understand all the lyrics, and these are not provided in a booklet with the CD. A good language coach can fix that, however. For me it was more important that she swings and is a first-rate arranger. Just listen, for instance, to the weird introduction she gave to Miles Davis’ Nardis, leading eventually into a highly original treatment of his mid-‘60s tune. She almost deconstructs the piece, taking it apart and putting it back together like a jigsaw puzzle with the pieces not quite matching up.
The various guest soloists perform above a cushion of drums and two bassists (one acoustic and one electric). It’s unusual to hear such a configuration: the ear is so used to having a piano for support that the idea of two bassists sounds a bit strange. But Jordan also performed for decades with just a solo bass for support, so it’s not entirely rare in jazz.
As the album proceeded, Campisi’s singing retreated further down in volume until it became whispery. This, I believe, is a mistake. There are about eight million female jazz singers who sing like this. I’m much more interested in her ability to swing and use the voice like an instrument; that is her strength. Happily, after a whispered I Loves You, Porgy she goes back to her hipper, edgier style in the self-penned Here Where I Stand (unfortunately, I couldn’t make most of the words out).
All in all, Campisi has fine talent, some of which is in full flower and some of which needs a bit of work. This is, however, an extremely interesting debut disc and I wish her well!