With tribute albums flooding the market, do we really want or need another one? Well, in the case of Texarkana native Roseanna Vitro's latest disc, Conviction: Thoughts of Bill Evans, the answer is a resounding yes.
The standout vocalist got her start belting out blues, rock and jazz with Arnett Cobb and Ray Sullenger over KUHF's once-jazzy airwaves, broadcasting live from Houston's Green Room in the '70s. One red-hot show inspired a noteworthy attendee to leap from his table and take an impromptu turn at the piano. Just some drunken patron? Hardly. It was Oscar Peterson.
On Conviction, Vitro sails through the Evans songbook with a class and grace befitting the late pianist. On most tracks, Vitro exudes a sense of cool. Her singing is often as fluid as Evans's fabled lines, and each note rings so naturally it seems deceptively easy. Like Evans, Vitro sometimes floats over the other instruments, and even when she comes across with power, there's usually nothing bombastic about it.
Conviction is not without fault. "Prelude to a Funk" has an utterly tacky intro, and Vitro's voice is faux hip, as if she were straining to be cool -- a direct contrast to when she just lets the music flow through her. And "Turn Out the Stars" suffers from her oversinging. But when Vitro leaves these inclinations behind, such as when she softly sails through "Waltz for Debbie," all is forgiven, and then some.
If Vitro sings her material from Conviction this weekend, consider the shows must-see events. There will be ample opportunity to find out why sax legend David "Fathead" Newman called her "one of the great Kahunas."