is littered with bodies of unfulfilled singers and songwriters.
Melody Gardot could have chosen an easier path than that of jazz.
Considering her youth and musical inexperience I would have thought
rock or fusion a better fit; genres not as demanding as jazz based
more on performance than skill. But jazz it was; difficulties
be damned! Granted, it’s important to keep on pushing the
envelope in the name of creativity but so much of new music is
a hodgepodge; no particular skills required. Fusion being one
outcome; an overly enthusiastic response to mining the field.
It seems to this music lover that good songwriting comes down
to the nature, core of the songwriter; already, there is an inherent
simplicity and sincerity in Gardot’s music. Melody Gardot
opens the diatonic door wide open. At the unripe age of 21 (when
the songs from Worrisome Heart were composed), she understood
the strength and simplicity of melody, the place where a classic
song can hang its hat, grab hold. I for one can’t get some
of her songs out of my head.
a good and disciplined songwriter not only entails knowledge of
music but an inherent feel for it. It would seem Melody has had
some previous musical training if only for the reason she plays
piano and guitar on the recording with a certain amount of expertise.
(I heard through the grapevine that she took classical piano lessons
when young). Even though Gardot has shown the good sense to surround
herself with fine musicians for backup, the writing and quality
of the music rests on her young shoulders. Gardot sticks with
the basics, a nice standard ABAB format; she doesn’t push
it. Her lyrics blend well with the music and are about failed
relationships, something she claims to have first hand knowledge;
“a lot of juice there,” Gardot quips. Composition
‘101’ advocates that in order to write well and have
some kind of impact it’s necessary to write about things
and subjects one knows well. Melody is no stranger to hardship.
to the 2008
Montreal Jazz Festival was no easy trip for young
Melody Gardot. After suffering a near fatal bicycle accident at
age 19 in her hometown of Philadelphia, her doctor encouraged
her to get involved in music as therapy for her brain injury,
and get involved she did. Discovering she had an affinity for
songwriting and singing, the EP, Some Lessons -- The Bedroom
Sessions was the outcome, recorded from her bedside. A local
DJ, impressed with Melody’s remarkable talent and courage,
brought her to the public’s awareness. The Philadelphia
City Paper shone more light on her when they awarded her
with their 2005 annual People’s Choice Award and her first
newspaper article. When questioned as to her musical influences
she says “all music, anything that resonates absolute sound”.
She doles the influences out, carefully metering them such as
“Quiet Fire,” – and its little suggestion of
‘country. For the most part her music is jazz and blues.
The songs, ”Worrisome Heart,” with its easy piano
and silken trumpet, and “Sweet Memory,” with its chuggin’
down the tracks guitar and muted trumpet are definitely bluesy
a pared down band, Gardot introduced her 10-track CD, Worrisome
Heart, at the 2008 Montreal Jazz Festival to critical acclaim.
Recorded when she was only 21, it’s filled with fresh original
material. For her three concerts at Théâtre du Nouveau
Monde, Melody, who played piano and sang, was sympathetically
backed up by Matt Cappy on trumpet, Charlie Patierno on drums
and Ken Pendergast on bass.
“Worrisome Heart” is a fusion of jazz and blues; on
the CD it features the smooth tenor sax of Ron Kerber and tranquil
trumpet of Matt Cappy. “All That I Need Is Love” is
an up tempo tune with a tease of Cajun and fresh. “Gone”
is a heartfelt ballad with Diane Monroe on violin. “Quiet
Fire” nicely crosses into Country and Western territory.
“One Day” has an endearing quality, a sweet, simple,
uncomplicated melody with the fine Stan Slotter on trumpet. “Love
Like A River” stumbles over its lyrics but Gardot’s
piano saves the day. “Some Lessons,” the only song
that explicitly refers to her accident, drips honey despite its
content, and recalls Billie Holiday’s “Goodnite.”
Gardot’s music is all about keeping it sincere, basic and
heartfelt; it takes courage keeping it simple, she’s got