A dynamic performer with virtuosic vocal chops, Roberta Gambarini draws rave reviews and enthusiastic fan support wherever she performs. “Gambarini is a true successor to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae.” (Boston Globe)
For this exclusive SOPAC Sessions concert, she’ll be accompanied by Cyrus Chestnut on piano, John Lee on bass and Tommy Campbell on drums.
Roberta Gambarini was born in Torino, Italy, into a family where Jazz was much loved and appreciated. She began listening to this music as a child and started taking clarinet lessons when she was twelve years old. By the time she was 17, she began singing and performing in Jazz clubs around Northern Italy and at the age of 18, she decided to move to Milan to pursue a career as a Jazz singer.
Soon after her move to Milan, Roberta took third place in a national Jazz radio competition on TV and in 1986 began recording both under her own name and as a guest. In 1997, she worked with French Hammond organ player Emmanuel Bex, touring Jazz clubs throughout Italy. In 1998 she moved to the United States with a scholarship from the New England Conservatory in Boston. Just two weeks later, Roberta stunned many in the Jazz world with a third place finish in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition.
Roberta has had the good fortune to appear in concert and record with such Giants as Dave Brubeck, James Moody, Hank Jones, Herbie Hancock, Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Cobb, Michael & Randy Brecker, Slide Hampton, Frank Wess, Harold Mabern, Toots Thielemans, Paquito D’Rivera, Chucho Valdez, Mark O’Connor, Cyrus Chestnut, Percy Heath, Billy Higgins, Ron Carter, Johnny Griffin, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, Cedar Walton, Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, George Cables, Mulgrew Miller and many others.
Her very first album, recorded in 2006, Easy to Love was nominated for a Grammy Award as was her third album, So in Love, which was awarded the Grand Prix du Jazz Vocal 2009 by the Jazz Academy of France. Twice, she was named the “Female Jazz Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2007 & 2009.
In 2008 Roberta recorded a superb duet album titled You Are There with the legendary pianist Hank Jones who accompanied most of the celebrated vocalists of 20th Century such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra,
Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae,and Nat King Cole, declared Roberta Gambarini to be the best singer to emerge in the last 60 years.
In 2015, Roberta recorded a collection of compositions written by yet another of her mentors, master saxophonist, composer and arranger Jimmy Heath. The album is called Connecting Spirits and includes some of Roberta’s own
lyrics to Mr Heath’s songs along with lyrics written by Jimmy himself, performed with the legendary Heath Brothers, with master drummer Tootie Heath.
Cyrus Chestnut – Piano
Pianist Cyrus Chestnut can do it all. Equally adept playing with trios, small groups, big bands, vocalists, or alone, he tackles a broad range of styles with both taste and intelligence. He is highly-regarded as the greatest Jazz pianist of his generation and universally recognized as one of the leading Jazz pianists in the world. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, his many credits include work with Kathleen Battle, Terence Blanchard, Betty Carter, Chico Freeman, Dizzy Gillespie, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Bands, Donald Harrison, Jon Hendricks, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, The Turtle Bay String Quartet and Joe Williams among many others. He is a noted Jazz educator and currently professor of piano at Howard University in Washington, DC. Cyrus has released over 30 solo recordings to date.
John Lee – Bass
From 1984 thru 1993, John Lee was Dizzy Gillespie’s bassist. Performing and recording in the trumpet master’s various bands including the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and Dizzy’s Grammy Award winning United Nation Orchestra. John is now the bassist and director of the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars, Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band and the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience. He has also worked in the bands of Gary Bartz, Larry Coryell, Jon Faddis, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Gambarini, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Gregory Hines, Claudio Roditi, Sonny Rollins and McCoy Tyner. John is also a Grammy Award winning record producer and audio engineer. He has produced over 100 recordings and is the co-founder of the record label JLP, Jazz Legacy Productions.
Tommy Campbell – Drums
Tommy Campbell was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania. His father was an organist and singer and his uncle is Jimmy Smith, the renowned Hammond B-3 master. After graduating high school he attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where he later returned as an instructor of drums and received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Tommy lived and worked in Paris, France in the 1980s. He later spent 13 years working in Tokyo, Japan. He has worked in the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, John McLaughlin, The Manhattan Transfer, Kevin Eubanks, Jimmy Smith, Stanley Jordan, Tania Maria, Gary Burton, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Bands and a host of other Jazz greats. As an educator Tommy has also taught at the Drummer’s Collective and The New School of New York City.
SOPAC Sessions is a livestream series of concerts coming to you directly from the SOPAC stage! These events, often featuring some of our most beloved SOMA-based performers, will bring the excitement of a night out at SOPAC right in to your living room. SOPAC Sessions will be free for SOPAC members and just $10 per ticket link for non-members.