Under The Influence
The music is the magic of a secret world... It's the magic that is always within...
When Jenna Mammina sings those lines, written by her friend and musical mentor, Abbey Lincoln, they strike the listener not just as lyrics to a beautiful song, but as a declaration of unshakable personal conviction. Since early childhood, Mammina has been caught in the spell of music's magic, a magic that now emerges in full flower on her debut album, Under the Influence, a thoroughly beguiling collection of songs that heralds the arrival of a major new vocal talent.
Produced by Cookie Marenco (with Jenna herself as co- producer), Under the Influence provides an ideal showcase for the singer's remarkable versatility. The album's twelve tracks represent a wide variety of moods and styles, reflecting an adventurous musical world view that includes everything from Broadway show tunes and jazz standards to work of contemporary icons like James Taylor, Elvis Costello and Led Zeppelin, plus Mammina's original compositions.
This is exactly the kind of album Mammina has always dreamed of making—one that crosses the borderlines between generations and genres, and pays homage to many of the musical forces that have helped shape her art. "That's the meaning of the title, Under the Influence," she explains. "These are the songs and songwriters that I grew up hearing... that influenced and inspired me. Abbey Lincoln, James Taylor... these are some of my heroes. It's all about giving some of that inspiration back."
To make Under the Influence, the production team of Marenco and Mammina gathered a stellar cast of musicians, fully capable of covering the electronic range of styles required, including guitarists André Bush and Robin Lewis, keyboardist Matt Rollings (from Lyle Lovett's band), bassists Troy Lampkins and Derek Jones, drummer John Mader, percussionist Jon Bendich, accordionist Rob Burger, string players Irene Sazer and Mark Summer, and backing vocalists Claytoven Richardson, Elzy Love and Tony Mammina (Jenna's big brother)
The assembled players provide uncannily empathetic support, in settings that range from Matt Rollings' lovely solo piano on the heartbreaking Berstein/Comden/Green classic Some Other Time to Cookie Marenco's lush orchestral arrangement for the romantic ballad My One and Only Love. Other highlights include: a swinging rompy through the 1930s standby When I Take My Sugar to Tea, a languid, bluesy take on Led Zeppelin's I'm Gonna Crawl, a sly, sinuous version of Elvis Costello's Watching the Detectives, Abbey Lincoln's wisely philosophical Throw It Away, and two of Mammina's own songs, the wistful Contradictions and the powerfully moving Take Back the Night.
Above all, Under the Influence is about the marvelously versatile vocal talent of Jenna Mammina. With seemingly effortless grace, she rises to the emotional and musical needs of whatever song she's singing at the moment, whether it's playful, intoxicating sensual, or full of heartbreak and regret. Jenna goes deep inside a song, and takes the listener right there with her:
..into the music...into the magic... Under the Influence.