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The New Yorker
JAZZ
by Whitney Balliett
Oct. 14, 1991
Wednesday: None of these jazz singers appeared in "Two Divas of Jazz" tonight - Helen Merrill, Barbara Lea, Carol Sloane, Betty Carter, Jackie Cain, Susannah McCorkle, Marlene VerPlanck, Sylvia Sims, Nancy Marano, Meredith d'Ambrosio, and Nancy Harrow. Instead, . . .
The Washington Post
ARTS
"A Hot Tip"
by Terry Teachout
Sept. 1, 2002
NEW YORK
It was hot. Disgustingly hot. Hot enough to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window. (Whoops, that's Raymond Chandler; better try again.) It was so hot last month that nobody here could talk about anything else - not about real estate, not about trendy new restaurants, not even about Hillary. . . As the temperature finally eased downward, I closed out the month with another double-header. The cabaret singer Blossom Dearie, as regular readers of this column are well aware, is in the middle of an extended run at Danny's Skylight Room, and when I heard that Meredith d'Ambrosio would be singing the late show at Danny's last Saturday, I decided to catch both sets, pausing in between to grab a quick but good dinner on the premises. (The Skylight Room is conveniently located in back of Danny's Grand Sea Palace, a comfy seafood spot on Restaurant Row in the theater district.) Nobody in the world sings "I Walk A Little Faster" or "Give Him The Ooh-La-La" like Dearie, and I can't begin to say enough good things about d'Ambrosio, a singer-composer of the utmost subtlety and refinement whose low, whisper-soft voice sounds rather like the way it feels to stroke an expensive cat. Her new CD "Love Is For The Birds" (Sunnyside), is in stores, and I commend it to your attention if you like classy vocal jazz. Hearing d'Ambrosio and Dearie on the same bill was almost as good as air conditioning.
Siuslaw News
Florence, OR
“Jazz diva at Axis Dec. 13”
by Burney Garelick
Dec. 18, 2002
What's your story, morning glory?
C'est vrai. That Frenchman was right. "She leaves you spellbound with her impeccable diction, great sense of phrasing, intonation and gentle swing." That's what Serge Baudot said about jazz singer Meredith d'Ambrosio in Jazz Hot, a French publication. It was a great antidote to Friday the Thirteenth in Old Town Florence when Meredith and the Kenny Reed Trio performed at the Axis Gallery, itself an antidote to certain political intersections here and abroad. This was an evening of real jazz, - cool, sweet, fragrant as a willow in a wind and rain storm. An evening of sipping beverages, listening, and grooving, and the Florence crowd, for the most part, did just that. The timbre of Meredith's voice stretches into the lower registers, spreading warnth from soul to sole, uptown, downtown, but not quite lowdown. Whether she sang Rodgers and Hart, Gershwin, Irving Berlin , or an original tune, she put her own spin on the song, like an artist painting Heceta Lighthouse or the Siuslaw River Bridge and making it look brand new. (Perhaps coincidentally, Meredith is also a painter, and some of her watercolors were on display, downloaded from the web.) Meredith is more than a singer; she's an interpreter of song, a storyteller, reminiscent of Rick Jarrett's stunning performance of Broadway melodies earlier this year at the FEC. Meredith interpreted love songs with grace and wit - "My Foolish Heart", "On The Bumpy Road To Love". Many of the songs she sang were written in the 1930s. . . But "Moonlight", a haunting, shimmering song, came from 1995, written for the remake of the movie Sabrina. "Alice In Wonderland" was kind of a Seurat or Monet impression of "Over The Rainbow". Ira Gershwin must have swung 'round in his grave to hear Meredith's phrasing of his delightful lyrics in "How Long Has This Been Going?" Meredith reached into the 1938 songbook for "What's Your Story, Morning Glory?" by Mary Lou Williams, esteemed pianist, writer, and arranger. Meredith noted that ten years later, a very similar song, "Black Coffee" appeared, much to Mary Lou's dismay. It was heady brew all night. Meredith concluded, appropriately, with Irving Berlin's "The Song Is Ended". When the crowd asked for more, she encored with an original "Don't Follow Me". Of course we will follow her at every opportunity. The Kenny Reed Trio was exceptional, especially since the musicians had not worked with Meredith before and had only the briefest of rehearsals. Kenny was of course the heartbeat - subtle, unassuming, underplayed yet prominent. Dylan DeRobertis, who celebrated his 20th birthday that day, had all the chops, plucking and bowing, sightreading the charts. Dylan is a sophomore at the U. of Oregon and plays in the university's Symphony. He has the makings of a fine jazz player, according to one of Florence's newest pianomen, Glen Rose, who adapted to Meredith's charts with aplomb, pro that he is, relishing riffs on Gershwin and Berlin, two of the great songwriters Glen features in his own one-man show he performs throughout the country. . . With four pros, the Friday the Thirteenth evening of extemporaneous jazz produced seasonal magic of goodwill. Even a couple of Florence's septuagenarian jazzers, who spent their youth in the great jazz scenes of Paris and San Francisco, had to admit that now you has jazz. So, what's your story, morning glory?
Internet (source unknown)
by Bill Adams
April 24, 2002
Just caught a wonderful set by pianist Eddie Higgins and his wife, the amazing Meredith d’Ambrosio, at the VanDyke Café on South Beach’s Lincoln Road. They perform so infrequently together, it was like an intimate house party, with the Meredith and Eddie fan club making up much of the first set's 30-40 people. Despite a few sound problems (music from the restaurant leaching up the stairs and apparently through the vents), both performed like troupers, not letting such things throw off their intricate tune-weavings. Meredith, as always, displayed incredible intelligence and depth in her song choices, ranging from the opening "You Leave Me Breathless" to the almost never played or sung "Wine Of May". Her selections always include poignant and spot-on lyrics, and pay homage to composers often born in the century before last. ("This one," she said about 'Indian Summer', "was written in 1919.") Rounding out her set was "There's A Lull In My Life", "Alone Together", within which she soloed her own 'paraphrased' version, "On The Bumpy Road To Love", “Suddenly It's Spring,” “The Lamp Is Low,” and “Beautiful Love.” Not a clunker or cliché in the batch. Eddie - whose pedigree reaches back over the years to sessions with jazz greats too numerous to catalogue - took solo charge in the middle of the set with Jimmy Rowles' intricate "The Peacocks", which he said he learned while playing a jazz gig on the S.S. Norway some 15 years ago, and which has become his favorite tune. These two are a treasure not to be missed. They leave for Back East next month and you might catch them somewhere in the wilds of New England if you're lucky.
The New York Times
"Meredith d'Ambrosio Upstairs at Greene Street"
by John S. Wilson
April 9, 1985
When the cabaret room Upstairs at Greene Street brings in a performer to do a single one hour show, as it did Thursday evening with Meredith d'Ambrosio, the situation does not allow a reserved and somewhat withdrawn person like Miss d'Ambrosio to appear at best advantage. Playing her own piano accompaniment and backed by the bassist Major Holley, Miss d'Ambrosio spent too much of her brief hour reaching for a point at which she could open up and project her interesting, low-keyed and witty personality. But once she emerged, she dealt skillfully with an imaginative and nicely balanced program - songs by Dave Frishberg, Bob Dorough, Matt Dennis and the team of Tommy Wolf and Fran Landesman mixed with Duke Ellington, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter and a couple of her own. She phrases well in a delicate voice that, at times, suggests Blossom Dearie - a slightly darker version of Miss Dearies's little-girl wonderment. But in "A Child Is Born", a ballad that drew out the warmth and range of her voice, one could hear the kind of purity and involvement that Teddi King projected. By the time Miss d'Ambrosio got to her own song "Once Upon A Tempo", she was confidently weaving such enchantment that one wished she had had the time to settle in and feel at home in the room.
The Washington Times
"Meredith d'Ambrosio's a performing treasure"
by Wayne Lee
March 7, 1985
When the Voice of America's Willis Conover talks about Jazz, people listen. Tuesday night at Cates Restaurant in Alexandria, the venerable Mr. Conover not only showed up to see and hear singer/pianist Meredith d'Ambrosio, he preceded her second set with a flowery, five-minute introduction, calling her "not only a national treasury, but a national treasure." The "treasury" accolade referred to Miss d'Ambrosio's 2,000 song repertoire. Most of her songs are obscure compositions by this century's foremost songsmiths. The "treasure" tribute was abundantly clear from the moment the singer sat down at the piano and began sharing those masterpieces with her rapt audience. Singing in a breathy, breezy, Brazilian-like alto, Miss d'Ambrosio lovingly sang a raft of little-known gems, such as "My Gentleman Friend" and "Small Day Tomorrow", along with some more familiar tunes - Hoagy Carmichael's "Baltimore Oriole", Gershwin's "Little Jazz Bird" (the title tune from her new Palo Alto album) and Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady". Especially entertaining were two Dave Frishberg songs, the witty "Peel Me A Grape" (with its wry refrain, "I'm geeting hungry, peel me a grape") and his paean to the little guy, "The Underdog". Miss d'Ambrosio, who was ably assisted by Steve Novosel on bass, also performed two of her own fine compositions "Once Upon A Tempo" [Mike Heffley co-wrote it] and "Somebody Just Like You". Each showed the composer's debt to the masters, and showed intelligent and melodic structure. Each showcased her knowing, no-nonsense approach to the lyric. With four albums to her credit and a fifth (on Sunnyside label) on the way, Meredith d'Ambrosio gradually is pressing herself into the national jazz consciousness. We need more such singers, singers who put the songwriter first, singers for whom the voice is a means of communication, not an end in itself; singers who have ability to make each performance of each song seem fresh and new. Miss d'Ambrosio will continue at Cates through March 23. She will be joined on stage from March 19 to 23 by jazz guitarist Emily Remler.
Letter from Evans
by Frederick C. Lewis
St. Louis, MO
January/February 1992
Dear Win,
I recently discovered the recordings of Meredith d'Ambrosio, a jazz singer/pianist who married the jazz pianist Eddie Higgins a couple of years ago. I imagine that you are familiar with her work, but I do not recall ever seeing her mentioned in Letter From Evans. I mention her recordings for three reasons. First, she has recorded several of Bill Evans's compositions in very compelling performances. Second, she is the most consumate jazz singer I have ever heard, maintaining a jazz swing and improvisatory approach while retaining respect for the original words and music. Third, she is the only jazz musician other than Bill Evans that I have encountered to whom I can listen for hours on end without ever feeling any sense of monotony. I am not a performing musician (although I do mess around on the piano occasionally), but I thoroughly enjoy your publication. Thank you for all your efforts in keeping it going and for the high quality of the articles you publish.
Very truly yours,
Frederick C. Lewis
I also recently discovered Meredith (see Vol. III, No. 2) and I yearn to hear more. - Win
Hub City Music News
Portland, OR
by George Fendel
December 1995
JAZZ UNDERDOGS
Meredith d'Ambrosio, in an ideal live setting, would be seated at a perfectly tuned Steinway, playing and singing the hand-picked art songs of America's creme-de-la-creme of songwriters. Hers would be a LISTENING audience, not a talking one, and an appreciative audience as well. And why? Because Meredith d'Ambrosio reaches her listeners through a sincere, straight to the heart, very believable no-style style. Whether accompanying herself or working with some of the best pianists in the business (how about Hank Jones, Harold Danko, Fred Hersch and her husband, the great Eddie Higgins), Meredith covers the standards but also makes sure the obscure gems (underdogs themselves) are given equal consideration. From that latter category, she gives us winners such as Denny Zeitlin's "Quiet Now"; Horace Silver's "Peace"; Freddie Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring"; Cole Porter's "Dream Dancing" and "Everything I Love"; Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom"; and, quite fittingly, a tune written by Al Cohn titled "Ah Moore", which, once the lyric was added by Dave Frishberg, became "The Underdog". Of the albums listed in the discography [of nine of her discs], I'd love to recommend one that clearly stands out above all the others. But alas, I cannot. They're all "must items" in my personal collection. Incidentally, the good news is this: to the best of my knowledge, all the Sunnyside titles remain in print and can be special ordered. Meredith d'Ambrosio is a gifted interpreter of the great American songbook. She's a singer of sensitivity, warmth and immediacy. You really ought to make her acquaintance.
National Public Radio
Wash., D.C.
November 1994
Program Guide about Marian McPartland's program Piano Jazz.
This month, the guest list on Piano Jazz includes pianist Fred Hersch . . . Eddie Higgins . . . Meredith d’Ambrosio is another South Florida piano Jazz connection. d'Ambrosio is a sensitive and romantic singer as well as a fine pianist. A song writer herself, she champions the lesser known songs of famous composers. d'Ambrosio discovered she had a flair for music at the age of six, when she had already started demonstrating her talents with the paint brush. She now merges these talents by painting her own album covers. On Piano Jazz, she combines her other musical gifts by singing and playing her own tunes, “Beware Of Spring” and “Give It Time.”
New York Post
"Tasty treat at the Tavern"
by Chip Deffaa
July 15, 1993
Meredith d'Ambrosio, appearing at Tavern on the Green, is far too talented to be as little-known as she is. It's not just that she has excellent taste - and she does, picking songs like "I Should Care", "A Rainy Afternoon" and "Oh, Look At Me Now", which are deserving of the respect she shows them. If she had done nothing more than sing them straight, I'd still be recommending the show, because the songs are so good, and her low-key, no-nonsense way of singing has a certain integrity that is attractive. But she does much more. After singing a song straight - the way one of the better band singers might have done back in the Swing Era - she often goes into another song, of her own devising, that both musically and lyrically paraphrases (or offers commentary upon) the first song. This is something unique and unprecedented. After "I Should Care", she offers her "Sheepcounter's Lament" - which uses the chords of the first song (and relates to it lyrically) but has a bebop feel. The standard "You've Changed" mutates into her laid-back '90s variant "You've Altered Your Attitude" and then reappears in its original form. Not all songs were performed in this manner. She sang a parody version of "I Thought About You", which her husband/accompanist, the sparking pianist Eddie Higgins, cut short with words to the effect that it was too risqué for the room. But it was a kick! Her other songs included "Lotus Blossom" (music by the late Billy Strayhorn, lyrics by Roger Schore - who was in the audience) and "Nobody Else But Me", a little-known Jerome Kern gem which singer/pianist Barbara Carroll (who was also in the audience) has revived. This is the latest in a series of quality bookings (including Illinois Jacquet, Susannah McCorkle and Grover Mitchell) that are helping Tavern on the Green to position itself as a viable competitor to some of the city's more established, better publicized jazz venues. And the "no minimum" policy - unique among major rooms - means you can check out the talent without spending a fortune.
Raleigh News and Observer, N.C.
by Owen Cordle
August 23, 1993
CARBORO
Songwriters who say, "Sing the song as written", have a friend in Meredith d'Ambrosio, who sang Saturday night at the ArtsCenter, accompanied by husband and pianist Eddie Higgins and bassist John Donnelly. Jazz fans have a friend, too, because d'Ambrosio phrases and interprets like a jazz musician. There's a purity - an innocence - about her work. Curiously, her understated delivery conveys more emotion than the histrionics of a hundred jazz singers. d'Ambrosio isn't opposed to scat singing, a medium she used briefly a couple of times on the codas to songs, but she is foremost a proponent of the mot juste. This is evident in her paraphrases of songs: new melodies, often in a bebop vein, and new lyrics based on the chords and story of the original song. She has applied this technique to, among others, Cole Porter's "Get Out Of Town" and "I Love You", Harry Warren's "I Had The Craziest Dream", the Axel Stordhal-Paul Weston-Sammy Cahn standard "I Should Care", Carl Fischer and Bill Carey's "You've Changed", Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz's "Alone Together" and Joe Bushkin's "Oh, Look At Me Now", all of which she sang Saturday night. The practice reminds you of bebop singers Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure and Jon Hendricks, who wrote lyrics to be recorded with instrumental solos. But d'Ambrosio's variations seem closer to the original, both melodically and lyrically - thus, a more coherent performance. The lady's tone is sensual. Something about it recalls the late Johnny Hodges, who played lead alto saxophone in the Duke Ellington band for 38 years. When she sang Dave McKenna's "Shadowland" (lyrics by M. d'A.) or the Italian tune "That Summer" (lyrics by Susannah McCorkle), her voice became a romantic mood. "Alone Together" reiterated the intimacy. Higgins was the gentleman pianist, an accompanist whose chords always buoy and whose embellishments never strangle. He was also the singer's partner-in-humor when she began a tongue-in-cheek "Lush Life" or offered R-rated lyrics to "I Thought About You". . . d'Ambrosio-Higgins-Donnelly: a matter of class.
The New York Times
"Sounds Around Town"
Flip, Hip, Warm and Throaty
by John S. Wilson
May 8, 1992
Mother's Day Threesome
Bob Dorough, Meredith d'Ambrosio and Eddie Higgins, Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th St., Manhattan. Bob Dorough, whose flip and hip songs have brightened the repertories of singers from Tony Bennett and Barbara Lea to the Fifth Dimension, will be doing them in his own peculiar way for a Mother's Day concert on Sunday. And he will share the stage with the singer Meredith d'Ambrosio. Her warm, throaty voice and subtle phrasing have made her a favorite among musicians, including the pianist Eddie Higgins, a veteran of the Chicago jazz scene, who is both her musical and marital accompanist. Between them, the two have eight grandchildren by earlier marriages, which gives the concert a very real Mother's Day flavor. . .
The Nice Paper
Providence, R.I.
JAZZ
By Kirk Feather
September 16-22, 1993
On Saturday evening, Sept. 18th, a singer of singular quality named Meredith d'Ambrosio and her partner, pianist Eddie Higgins, will perform for us at Club Manhattan, and I feel we should lay out the red carpet for them. Known to jazz lovers in our area for years, I only recently heard the duo on record, and then I took a ride out to the East Bay Lodge in Osterville on Cape Cod on a rare (and fully appreciated) Saturday night off to catch them in action. To begin with, this pair avoid some of the overplayed standards and opt for lesser-played works of famous composers, like Jerome Kern or Harry Warren. Meredith also does a thing she calls "paraphrase songs"; that is, new lyrics and a new melody line over the chord changes of the original. This has, of course, been done before by Carmen McCrae, Jon Hendricks and others, but the difference here is that the new tune uncannily matches the intent, description, and emotion of the original tune. Same thing, said differently. You have to hear this to believe it, and one hopes the crowd at Manhattan will give them, and you, a break, so you can hear them. . .
This pair will enchant you, amaze you, tickle your funny bone, touch your heart. I have not heard such classy music making in years. Who else besides me thinks they're good? Rex Reed, Gene Lees, Leonard Feather, and John S. Wilson of the NY Times. They have an elegant, fun presentation that you won't soon forget. The sureness of Higgins's piano and the subtle, intelligent singing of Meredith d'Ambrosio are one of those combinations that are magical, and absolutely first class.
The Mark Murphy Appreciation Society
London, Eng.
by Betty Huck
March 1985
Elegant Song Stylist, Meredith d'Ambrosio
Meredith d'Ambrosio came to live in Ashland, OR for the summer last year. That's how I know her. She's a terrific singer. Knows over 2000 songs. Can you imagine knowing someone that no matter what song you can think of, she knows it? She did a concert at Jazmin's and stayed afterward playing and singing almost every song the audience requested. She plays the piano too. A very soft and gentle style, jusst like her singing. She's a perfectionist. About everything. Not just her singing and playing. She has to have a really good piano to perform on. And she's a fabulous cook. Everything she makes is delicious . . . even ordinary dishes turn out to be gourmet treats (same as her singing). And she's an extraordinary artist. Her watercolors are lovely. She's very fond of nature. That's why she liked Southern Oregon so much. Ashland is a small, picturesque town that sort of hangs from the side of a mountain. And the trees are wonderful, and the flowers, even the cows are wonderful. And Meredith put them all in her paintings. She wrote a lot of music while she was here. You should see the manuscripts. Is that what you call a song with music when it's written down? She copied it all by hand and it's perfect looking. You can't believe that a real person actually did the entire thing by hand. The songs are great sounding besides. Meredith is an expert calligrapher and made her living doing just that for a time in her past life. While she lived in Boston, she produced two of her own records and as of late, has been managing her own career. Gotten herself a bunch of gigs as a result. So see, she's not only an artist, but a business woman as well. She's funny, pretty, has cute curly hair, is a grandmother who doesn't look nearly old enough to be one and can make a pillow entirely by hand. Put all of that with her stunning jazz style. Why is it that one person can have so much talent? Well, she does. I hope more people will get to see and hear her now that she's on the move.
Liner notes of George Mraz's CD "Jazz"
by Doug Ramsey
(author of Jazz Matters; Reflections on the Music and Its Makers - University of Arkansas Press)
1995
Meredith d'Ambrosio, a singer's singer, a musician's singer, was calling. Her voice was dancing on the verge of laughter. "If I told you a bass player I've been dying to record with just agreed to be on my next album, who do you think I'd be talking about?" "George Mraz," I said. "What?" She seemed nonplussed. "How did you know?" "It was an easy guess," I told her. Meredith is among the musical aristocracy who discuss Mraz in terms of musicianship that goes beyond technique and taste into the realm of artistry through intuition. The facility and knowledge of a lifetime of study and experience have given Mraz the insight to perfectly discern his colleagues' musical natures and meet their needs. . .
Spotlight Seacoast Arts & Entertainment
Portsmouth, NH
by Alan Chase
September 21, 1999
d'Ambrosio and Higgins bring their jazz style to town.
Jazz has had its share of introspective artists. Musicians who exude an aura of aloofness or indifference, while others exude an aura of intellectualism. Still others appear to be extremely serious, while others are more animated. Think of Miles Davis, standing to one side of the stage listening to the musical explorations of the others in his group. Or pianist Bill Evans, a study in deep thought and concentration every time he sat down at the piano. You could say that their personalities came through their music. Vocalist/pianist Meredith d'Ambrosio is another introspective artist in Jazz. But hers is a more subtle approach, like that of a casual observer of life as it passes by, offering wry and insightful commentary of the vagaries of life. Her music is a reflection of that casual subtlety, and that music will be on display Sunday at the Press Room in Portsmouth, as d'Ambrosio and her husband, pianist Eddie Higgins, offer up their approach to jazz at the Portsmouth establishment. The concert is sponsored by the Seacoast Jazz Society. . . Born in Boston, d'Ambrosio exhibited artistic abilities at a young age, both in music, as well as in visual arts. In addition to a career as a singer/pianist, she is also a composer, arranger and lyricist, as well as a respected and known calligrapher, watercolorist and creator of eggshell mosaics . . . d'Ambrosio and Higgins have made several recordings together since they first became a team in the late 1980s. They interact well, playing off each other. His tasteful piano style meshes beautifully with her casual, introspective style. And it is that style that makes her music come alive. To Meredith d'Ambrosio, the melody is what is most important. In 1996 JazzTimes interview, d'Ambrosio said, "I would never sing a song if it didn't have a different, interesting melody. What I love about standards is their different forms." It is this approach that makes Meredith d'Ambrosio's music so stunning and spellbinding. It is an approach that helps to make jazz the art form that it is.
Loafer's Choice
W. Broward County, FL
CHOICE EVENTS
. . . Despite living part-time in South Florida, Meredith is seldom exposed to local audiences, preferring intimate concerts rather than club dates. Her gifts lie in writing fluent and ingenious variations on the lyrics of standards ("paraphrase songs," she says.) and writing first-time lyrics to jazz compositions. As a performer, Meredith has a gentle, warm and throaty voice. Her phrasing makes her a favorite of audiences and musicians alike. . .
Leader-Telegram
Eau Claire & West-Central Wisconsin
by Chris DuPre
February 2, 1987
Weekend provided rich musical experiences
The weekend just past was a prime time to fly 'Live Music Is Better" banners. To wit: Meredith d'Ambrosio gave a brave and beautiful performance Saturday night at The Joynt, in Eau Claire.
Battling a cold while armed only with hot lemon water, she nonetheless sang wondrously intimate songs by a gallery of the 20th century's best songwriters. Although the compsers were familiar, the songs often weren't. Her store of a few thousand tunes, catalogued in notebooks tossed on top of her piano during the second set, explores heartfelt and enlightening aspects of composers such as Al Coln, Steve Allen, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart. Often she'd play a piano standard with recently written and unrecorded lyrics. Her piano playing was precise, lyrical and understated. When her right foot wasn't working the pedal, it was tapping out a space a bass player might occupy in a duet. Born on the first day of spring, March 20th, d'Ambrosio played several songs for the season, and she showed a bright touch on more lighthearted material, such as Dave Frishberg's "Peel Me A Grape" and her own "Miss Harper Goes Bizarre", an ode to Brooke Shields and many others like her. Above all, she showed a determined warmth and compassion, bringing each songwriter's vision to life with poetic passion. Between sets, d'Ambrosio said she'd never missed a concert in years and years of performing. "You've got to nip these things in the bud," she said. "Don't let yourself get sick." d'Ambrosio's talent is fruit ripe on the tree that's that much sweeter for being rare.
Boston Globe
by Bob Blumenthal
GLOBE CORRESPONDENT
September 20, 1996
In song, d'Ambrosio can turn a phrase
Scatting, which can be a high art, is not a sine qua non of jazz singing. On the contrary, those who feel the ultimate in hipness involves a mannered be-e-ending of every note would best leave scat alone. Meredith d'Ambrosio has a different idea, and she calls it paraphrase. It involves writing new melodies on the chord changes of standard songs, then fitting these lines with words that expand on the original lyrics. d'Ambrosio sang three paraphrases in her first set at Scullers on Wednesday - "Alone Together", "You've Changed" (which she calls "You've Altered Your Attitude") and "I Love You" - and they revealed a gift for original creation rivaling her interpretive skills. Singing at an intimate, conversational volume, d'Ambrosio knows how the get the most out of her material. Her phrasing is easy and unforced, and her variations highlight the more intriguing harmonic twists in a lyric while staying within the narrative flow. The paraphrases contain more twists and turns, and a healthy portion of cleverly interpolated jazz licks, yet still keep the story front and center. These storytelling skills are only enhanced when d'Ambrosio presents an unfamiliar lyric. When she sang the obscure "A Rainy Afternoon" and the long-forgotten "Fools Fall In Love", the scenarios came through with such clarity and sincerity that one wondered why these ballads had not attained warhorse status. At Scullers, d'Ambrosio (who frequently accompanies herself on the piano) was joined by her husband, Eddie Higgins, who led a talented trio completed by bassist Peter Kontrimas and drummer Gary Johnson. . .
Molde Internat'l Jazz Festival
Norway
July 1996
Meredith d'Ambrosio & Dave Frishberg
Meredith d'Ambrosio has for several years been a vocal fovourite with the cognoscenti. In Molde she will be presenting some of the less-known standards accompanied by Dave Frishberg and a couple of swinging Danes! Thurs., Fri., and Sat. at Hot Hat
The Register-Guard
Eugene, OR
by Mike Heffley
May 13, 1984
(Mike Heffley is a Eugene writer who reviews the performing arts for the Register-Guard)
Jazz musician commands attention
It was somewhat mystifying, at first, to see the enthusiastic and devoted attention vocalist/pianist Meredith d'Ambrosio commanded at the Oregon Elctric Station's Jazz Depot Friday night. Here was this soft though full voice floating over a sure sophisticated-but-hardly showy piano style, all coming from a pretty but unpretentious woman - and the people seemed to nestle down into her palm and stay there through three long sets. Could it have been the material? Partly. She presented her songs like a poet might, structuring the sets with an ear for theme, motif, submotif, noting them (spring, birds, children) offhandedly between songs with no self-consciousness. Indeed, her material was poetry, what Tony Bennett calls America's art songs, the finest in lyrical and harmonic/melodic vignettes from the past 70 years by people such as the Gershwins, Kurt Weill, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, Ju,,y Van Heusen, Johnny Mercer and , more recently, Bob Dorough and David Frishberg. d'Ambrosio had a charming way of letting us in on that legacy, reminding us that it's ours, that it's been imprinted on us since infancy and can therefore unlock a lot in each of us, and shouldn't be taken for granted. She tells us names and anecdotes about the people who created and performed each work as though we all were as familiar with them as she, and so brings us into an enriching knowledge of them. Was it her performance? Partly. Her style engages by soothing, not sweeping away. A breathy note or two and you feel like you're at home listening to your mother, or sister, or wife or lover - some woman close and dear- who is singing whie she does somthing else in the house, and it becomes a Prousitan moment of joy. Proust is the apt literary parallel to d'Ambrosio's music. It's pastel, full of all the words in the world at their most refined and relaxed, words of wisdom and saucy street-wisdom, of childlike innocence and glee, of world-weary sadness and survival. Her music also is full of all the notes and chords in the world, too, as delicately acoustic as a lute recital. It wasn't perfect. Some things were near-perfect (her timing and attack on the piano, her general use of her voice in both lyrics and scatting), but others broke the spell now and then - a line forgotten, or some signals crossed between her and bassist Ed Coleman. But there never was any loss of poise, and the perfection always came back easily. Coleman worked well with d'Ambrosio, displaying an obvious respect for and responsibility to the material and the artistry, blending in nicely without obtruding himself too much by the end of the night. d'Ambrosio is the still, small and somewhat sly voice in the blare and glitter of the city, always there whether the moment is sad or light, whispering with a bittersweet familiarity, "You know, my friend, this is all just illusion." You have to listen.
Willamette Week
Portland, OR
by Lynn Darroch
January 24-30, 1985
Meredith d'Ambrosio Quartet
A lovely contralto with a taste for intelligent lyrics and the honest presentation of a song, vocalist and pianist Meredith d'Ambrosio has a small national cult following, critical acclaim and a loyal Portland audience. Her personal and delicately ironic interpretations of contemporary songs are supported by her Eugene-based group featuring Klaus Roehm on sax.
The Washington Post
(Wash., D.C.)
by W. Royal Stokes
March 11, 1985
Meredith d'Ambrosio's remarkable gift for capturing in song fleeting memories and giving them vivid presence derives in part from her delicacy of delivery. But, as was clear from her opening set at Cates Thursday night, it has just as much to do with her keen sense for letting the drama of a song develop on its own terms. Her art is unique in its almost austere economy, but as low-key as her attack is there is heat aplenty. Supported by her own impressive pianistics and the supple bass of Steve Novosel, the vocalist offered a program drawn from a wide spectrum that included Gershwin, Vernon Duke, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg and her own tunes. The pensive opening verse of "Little Jazz Bird" was perfectly balanced by a scatting conclusion and the number contained some intriguing exchanges between piano and bass. Pastoral images floated by in "Spring Is Here" and d'Ambrosio's voice became one with a sustained piano chord at song's end.The duo stays through March 23.
The Oregonian
(Portland, OR)
by Rick Mitchell
January 18, 1986
d'Ambrosio jazz ambrosia pleases mortals, too
Pianist-vocalist Meredith d'Ambrosio and her quartet opened a two-night stand Friday at the Jazz Quarry. d'Ambrosio is a warm, low-key, jazz interpreter of the American Popular songbook, as written by Cole Porter, Alec Wilder, Duke Ellington and other geniuses of the pre-rock era. Originally from Boston, d'Ambrosio moved to Eugene two years ago. She has recorded five albums, the most recent of which, It's Your Dance is available on the Sunnyside label. d'Ambrosio's sultry contralto and easy sense of swing have been compared to Anita O'Day, Jackie Cain and the late Irene Kral. Unlike a number of pop singers who have been dabbling in jazz, she never resorts to technical razzle-dazzle or cute antics to force herself upon her material or the audience. She simply finds tunes with well-crafted melodies and intelligent lyrics, and sings them sensitively, honestly and always on key. At her best, she has the ability to transform a noisy supper club into an intimate living room. d'Ambrosio was backed by William Thomas on drums, André St. James on bass and Carl Woideck on flute and saxophones. . . . Her composition "Somebody Like You" recalled Van Morrison's "Moondance", except that the jazzy sophistication Morrison sought to achieve comes naturally to d'Ambrosio. The song allowed the rhythm section to open up and swing harder than on the ballads, and featured a strong, John Coltrane-influenced tenor solo by Woideck. . . In the latter sets, d'Ambrosio intended to focus on material from the new album, which contains a fine version of Coltrane's "Giant Steps" with new lyrics by d'Ambrosio and Ron Hurston. The title track borrows its melody from John Carisi's "Israel". . .
Jazzscene
Portland, OR
by Mark Daterman
January 1986
Jazz Quarry Jan. 17 & 18
This "little jazz bird" (the title of her 1983 album) hasn't been singing much in her home state this past year, and hasn't been to Portland for 12 months, but she's been blowing strong in Europe and on the east coast. She also has a new record out, It's Your Dance on Sunnyside Records. The lovely vocals of d'Ambrosio, whose voice is sweet and diction clear, continue to range from carefully selected tunes by revered American songwriters to her own originals and songs written for her by others. When she delivers this fine material, the meaning is always clear, and she uses her voice instrumentally without scatting. She is also a visual artist who has displayed her paintings on the walls at past Jazz Quarry performances.
from Morning Star (Key West, FL) by Dennis Maloney 4/26/01
Meredith d'Ambrosio and Eddie Higgins Light Up San Carlos
Peter Diamond's Saturday night jazz concert at the San Carlos Institute introduced Key West to the unique and talented Meredith d'Ambrosio backed by the Eddie Higgins Trio. Meredith wears many hats. She's a singer, composer, lyricist, and interestingly, a [visual] artist. In fact, her watercolors are on display this week at the San Carlos. Eddie Higgins, on the other hand, is a skilled pianist who is comfortable playing in a variety of styles. In real life, they are husband and wife who divide the year living in Florida and Cape Cod while keeping up a busy schedule of touring in this country, Europe and Japan. Meredith's musical success was established before she met Eddie at a gig on Cape Cod in 1987, but things have made a dramatic turnaround for her. "Before I met Eddie I did my own accompanying because I was shy, and I hid behind the piano," explains Meredith. "I've been standing up ever since then. Eddie's playing makes me swing so I can move and fool around with the audience," she continued. . . "He has a sensitive way of playing. His chords are beautiful; they all make sense. He's just multi-faceted. I'm a cool jazz singer. I'm different from most singers. I don't sound like anyone but myself." And what makes Meredith d'Ambrosio so unique is the fact that she sings and composes paraphrase songs. "I'm paraphrasing the original song," she says. "I write a bebop line against the theme and I paraphrase the words into jazz poetry. But it's really a bebop lyric; it's scat done with a lyric." She gave a wonderful demonstration of her paraphrasing ability on the Arthur Schwartz favorite "Alone Together". With a bouncy backing from Eddie and bassist Jim Kessler, and drummer Roger Van Zandt, Meredith changed the original melody into her own "Solitary Two", then switched back to the original melody line. Later Meredith sang "Chance With A Ghost", her clever paraphrase of Bing Crosby's familiar "Ghost Of A Chance", then livened things up and got everybody laughing with a risqué parody of Jimmy Van Heusen's "I Thought About You". . . She also kept the San Carlos Audience entertained with her sensitive and delicate interpretations of a wide range of classics such as "My Foolish Heart", "Suddenly It's Spring", and "The Song Is Ended", and then topped things off with her own warmly romantic "Tell This Poor Fool", a selection from her forthcoming CD Love Is For The Birds. Singer Meredith d'Ambrosio's inventive paraphrasing of many familiar classics and Eddie Higgins's stylistic piano made Saturday evening an unforgettable one for those in attendance at Peter Diamond's continuing jazz series at the San Carlos Institute.
JazzTimes
by Fred Bouchard
March 1996
Meredith d'Ambrosio
Do singers have thir seasons? Does Ella Fitzgerald's brightness go with April's buds? Sheila Jordan's mystery with winter's chills? Sarah Vaughans's brilliance with the summer sun? Fall's a time that likes Meredith d'Ambrosio. She sounds right for a country walk, kickin' up leaves, catchin' whiffs of sweet maple smoke. Her songs shed autumn's softer light, pastels and russets, tugging breezes, bracing airs. Above all, there's a crepuscular touch of sadness, wrought by lost love, and sublimated into beauty. You've heard of singers' singers. Meredith is a song's singer. For this true griot with true grit, songs tell stories. She tells them with little embellishment, if great attention to detail. You get many for your money: no fewer than a dozen (on Little Jazz Bird, with its fabulous lineup), an amazing 21 (on Sleep Warm, a solo album of - heavens! - lullabies). And the odds are better than good that even song mavens will learn at least one great, neglected tune per album. They are by overlooked composers (Alec Wilder, Jerome Kern), un-done ones by famous composers, or increasingly, her own. She's written lyrics to tunes by pianists Dave McKenna and Kevin Gibbs, hornmen Al Cohn and Freddie Hubbard. "My songs tell stories of love," admits Meredith. "Love lost or happening, unrequited, misbegotten. Love is the epitome of nature." Let's hear it for the whole song, says purist Meredith, who seeks, relishes, treasures opening verses. "Sometimes the verses are better than the songs! 'The End Of A Love Affair' has a verse that's a whole separate song: she's writing to Dorothy Dix and Emily Post and the key keeps changing! I used to sing it every night. Then there's 'Charm' by William Roy, that Mabel Mercer used to sing. And 'Ship Without A Sail'" Yet Meredith avers that it is not the lyric, but the melody that is most important to her. "I would never sing a song if it didn't have a different, interesting melody. What I love about standards is their different sounds, forms. In jazz they get even more interesting when you reharmonize them. Each performer sould make a song his own, but not change it around to insult the composer!" Beyond music, she fills her days with solitary arts: calligraphy and painting. Her exquisite watercolors and print illuminate her 10 album covers, as well as the music within. Her introspective life induces creativity of a high order. Just as she once invented a new art medium - the eggshell mosaic - Meredith has created a new genre of song in recasting and extending standards. Singer Bob Dorough alertly named them "paraphrase songs". "I can scat pretty well, but it's inelegant. It's not me. The paraphrase songs are not vocalese. They're jazz poetry on my initially improvised bop line on a tune. They are meant to be funny: they reflect my slightly silly character. They're based both on the melody and the song's story. The [improvisation] is spur of the moment when I first do it, but then I write it down." Since 1990, she's recorded her whimsical spins on tunes like Cole Poeter's "I Love You", Bloom & Mercer's "Fools Rush In", "Get Out Of Town", and "I Should Care". Soft-spoken Meredith is no big city gal. More suited to a contemplative, country lifestyle, she lives a Piscean existence with her husband and frequent collaborator Eddie Higgins and their chocolate Labrador, Clifford Brown: winters in Florida, summers on Cape Cod. "I see nature in my art and my songs. I'd rather communicate with nature than with people. Isn't that awful? I like to hide out and paint or write songs. Trees are most important to me: nothing's more beautiful. Each is unique. I hope the songs I write and choose are unique, like trees. My paintings are also fleeting impressions, not realism, capturing a moment. You can feel the nature." Meredith, like Blossom Dearie, may sound delicate, but she's no hothouse flower: she loves to work with great beboppers. The cast on her albums is awesome: Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Ben Riley. "I love bass players! George Mraz! Michael Moore! They add such oomph. Easy to work with, knowledgeable, they're hip, they swing, they're sensitive, soulful. That's what I look for." As a pianist, she digs piano: Hank Jones, Harold Danko, Ray Santisi, Fred Hersch, and, since 1988, Higgings. He has helped her cure mic-shyness and swing more. She'd like to record with Mike Renzi, Lee Musiker, Monty Alexander, Makoto Ozone. Meredith reckons among her favorite singers Maxine Sullivan, Irene Kral, and Mildred Bailey, "none of whom I'd heard until after I started [recording]. Tony Bennett makes me cry; he's very vulnerable, with such feeling and spirituality." Her huge repertoire, ironically, makes set selection hard. "Things grow and change: I knew over 2,000 songs when I stopped to count in 1963. Today it's about 2500, but that's just a number. The real deal is keeping the good ones in rotation so I don't get bored or bore the audience. When I used to hide behind the piano, I could use my little notebooks [filled with chord changes and lyrics]. I've forced myself to memorize everything now." On the road, bringing her music to devoted Japanese, intense French (Paris loves her), romantic Italians (just back from Torino) and sunblown Cape Codders, Meredith prefers concerts to clubs. "There's no smoke, no sound. It makes me feel like singing, relaxing, and fooling around. But I don't like stages. I feel more warmth from an audience when I'm down on their level." Her ideal is the intimate concert club, like Boston's Scullers Lounge and Pine Manor Junior College. Meredith's timbre has mellowed, comparing solo dates from 1980 and 1991: her warm quivering viola has broadened and deepened into cello. Soon on her exclusive label, Sunnyside, Meredith will duet with graceful acoustic guitarist Gene Bertoncini. "They want me to play piano: I don't know why. [I play composer's piano.] Gene and I will mix it up. It's called Silent Passion. the title song for a screenplay I wrote." Meredith's natural enthusiasm for all her art is infectious. One minute she enthuses about a watercolor of poplar trees in Avers: "My heart goes crazy!" The next, she's talking about songs. "They're life, they're my life. I write a song and then the lyric. Never the lyric first. 'Silent Passion' was amazing to me: I atually had the lyric and tune come to me at the same moment. It just happened - first time ever!"
Meredith's gear: Meredith's favorite piano: The Grotrian piano. "I played it on Another Time: it has such resonance and mystery. It's mellow and bright at the same time. I've never heard a piano like it. I played 35 songs and it's like I never played them at all. It had a perfect touch. It was magic [WBUR-FM talk show host of "The Connection"]. Chris Lydon had it imported from Berlin - only one of three in in the U.S. back in 1980." Her home piano, on which she recorded Sleep Warm: Yamaha 9' concert grand. "It's wonderful! The bass is deep and clear as a bell! The lowest A is the bottom: it's not muddy! A great touch. It's too full for my voice really."
The New Yorker
by Richard Merkin
September 28, 1998
Zinno, 126 W 13th St. - Through 9/26, Meredith d'Ambrosio
A rare engagement by this singers' singer who happens to paint most of her own CD covers. d'Ambrosio possesses a rich awareness of American song and an uncanny ability to move from "one of those bells that now and then ring" to a ballad like "How Is Your Wife", which she has established as a bittersweet anthem for boomers and post-boomers. Completing her trio are Steve Kuhn on piano and Jay Leonhart on bass, and they pay strict attention.
NPR Voice of America, Willis Conover by Willis Conover 1984 ( Limerick) The legend of our lady Meredith Is not like some Scarlett O'Hara myth. No, not an invention, But a name one may mention With the awe one names Billie and Sarah with.
Village Voice
NYC
by Gary Giddins
Aug. 17, 2002
MEREDITH D'AMBROSIO
It's been a while since this highly affecting and individual singer and pianist had a berth in the city, and this is a brief one. She has an extraordinarily broad and very hip repertoire that encompasses jazz classics, standards, and originals, with the third group sometimes emanating from the first two. Her style is so elegantly cool and laid-back it can sneak up on you like a mickey. Danny's Skylight Room, Aug. 21 - 24
Vintage Reviews:
(some of Meredith's very first reviews)
Boston Herald  by Ken Mayer from a column called Night Mayer 1966 
. . . About Meredith, the sophisticated jazz-blues thrush currently appearing at the Camelot Room. A honey-blonde with a honey of a voice, she's one of the stronger male draws around. . .

Boston Herald Night Whirl by Ed Michaels 1967   
. . . The Inner Circle which serves up one of the best charbroiled steaks in town also serves up one of the best vocal/pianists in town Thursday through Saturday in the lounge. She is known only as Meredith . . .

Boston Herald  Nite-Mayer by Ken Mayer 2/27/68  
. . . Catch Meredith at the piano weekends at the Boston Press Club. She's one of the better excuses for missing a deadline . .



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