Dreambox Media
In Memoriam

Zan Gardner: "here's my heart..."


CD cover

A fixture on Philadelphia's jazz scene for many years, Zan Gardner's unique vocal treatments of eight standards and her first original composition, "Metaphoric Heartbreak" were spotlighted on "Here's My Heart...," chosen as one of the 15 Best CDs of 2001 by Dr. Jack Buerkle, WRTI Temple University Jazz Radio.

Personnel: Zan Gardner (vocals, more about Zan), with the soulful piano of Dave Posmontier, special guest soloist John Swana (trumpet, flugelhorn, EVI), bassist Chico Huff, versatile drummer Steve Holloway, and a cameo by Tony Miceli on vibes.
"As Time Goes By" / "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face" / "Exactly Like You" / "You Don't Know What Love Is" / "Stolen Moments" / "How High the Moon" / "Metaphoric Heartbreak" / "The Way You Look Tonight" / "Some Other Time"

What the critics say:

"Gardner puts a slight Latin spin or a hip jazz beat into her work and takes the songs into a different realm with her diverse interpretation of the composers. Her singing style is reminiscent of Betty Carter's in the way she phrases. Gardner delves into the lowest tonal range with smoldering expressions that ooze with sensuality; then she swiftly lifts off with swinging vocal improvisations. Her voice can be quite beguiling.
Gardner's quartet puts out a big supportive sound behind her. Posmontier on piano and Swana on brass are responsive to Gardner's direction and kick the program into high gear with excellent solos during the vocal breaks. The rhythm team is also up-front-and-personal, filling in all the crevices with substance. None of this interferes with Gardner's approach. She moves headlong into the program, spitting out rounds of improvised melody lines while the band gets into her groove. Gardner also presents one of her compositions, the love song 'Metaphoric Heartbreak,' that has a haunting hint of 'Angel Eyes' at its core. It is a great vehicle for Gardner, allowing her to get emphatic with the unrequited love lyrics. Gardner gets strong support throughout from her band, but the strength of the recording comes from her style. She has produced a first-rate first album that highlights her exceptional vocal talents very effectively."
- Cadence

"...Gardner redraws melodies, inserts 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' before 'How High the Moon,' and wrests something new to say from standards like 'As Time Goes By'...the overall vibe - backed by pianist Dave Posmontier, trumpeter John Swana, bassist Chico Huff, and drummer Steve Holloway - carries some righteous feeling."
- Philadelphia Inquirer

"Zan Gardner is one of those singers who can absorb various influences, catalyze them and form an even newer sound that reminds the listener of other singers but that is entirely her own. Even though Gardner sings standards, she implies a Latin influence, even on 'As Time Goes By,' which builds upon a reggaed percussiveness and an African-influenced vibe--literally. Vibist Tony Miceli adds to the glimmering light released by the tune with the instrument's luminescence. Another of Gardner's associations seems to be a Betty Carter-ish approach to singing 'How High The Moon' as she develops her own elastic phrasing that pulls apart the song like taffy into the lengthened thoughts bundling the tune's musical elements.
...Gardner has chosen her musicians wisely. John Swana retains his melodic approach to the instrument as he backs Gardner sensitively and knowingly on trumpet or flugelhorn, their techniques converging in a unity of purpose. Even his solos remain within the moment, the horn's voice an extension of Gardner's vocal set-up. On 'The Way You Look Tonight,' Swana finally lets fly with an energetic solo, as if he were freed to shape the tune himself. Plus, pianist Dave Posmontier proves himself an accompanist who listens to the singer and expands upon her suggestions. His enlightening solos, like Swana's, stay within the attitude of each song while he explores the songs' harmonic implications.
Yet, it's Gardner's voice that represents the discovery of Here's My Heart. Making each song her own, Gardner combines a huskiness with an understanding of the songs' meanings...Even in the swing of 'Exactly Like You,' Gardner attains a sultriness and understated attractiveness in her alto interpretation that draws the listener's attention. She teases when she starts 'You Don't Know What Love Is' in what seems to be an impossibly low key, leaving one to wonder where she can go from there if an even lower note presents itself in the arrangement.
With an unconventional style and an ever-present knowing grace, Zan Gardner has released an album that deserves a wide audience and a high degree of attention."
- All About Jazz

"She has every single necessary talent for good jazz. She has timing, she has the quality of voice, she has a way with lyrics that you believe them. Now notice the different personality in each if these songs...sung with incredible improvisation...the improvisation is out of sight...She is something special...what a wonderful, wonderful combination of the right band and the right person singing these wonderful tunes."
- WRTI Jazz FM

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