Germana Stella La Sorsa: Primary Colours

Singer explores drum ’n’ bass, bossa-nova and free improv, hinting at Gretchen Parlato, Bobby McFerrin and Jeff Buckley but sounding herself


Don’t be misled by the quiet vocal opening to the introductory Black as Germana’s voice gently, carefully enunciates the vocals. For all of a sudden, Jay Davis’s drums kick in, Tom Ollendorff’s guitar comes to the fore, and the album comes alive. Prominent too are Sam Leak’s funky organ lines, bringing some punch and depth to proceedings while Ollendorff consistently impresses for his thoughtful and unexpected ingenuity. And rising above everybody is the lead singer, her amplified and often wordless vocals flying high in exuberant fashion.

Her voice is powerful when required, but also capable of great variety and soulful subtlety, notably on the all-too-short White, where she just hums and sings a wordless melody, and on the abstract, reflective Refraction that ends the set.

The publicity accompanying this release talks about her musical influences, citing Bobby McFerrin and Jeff Buckley in particular, but I just hear her own voice adapting well to the various requirements of each song. Blue stands out for its lilting bossa-nova rhythms and sweeping harp accompaniment, while Yellow references Wordsworth’s daffodils. Ollendorff’s fluent solo is the making of Red, especially when the track stretches out and disintegrates towards the end.

An album with a dominating, colourful theme has to hold it together musically from start to finish, which this album does very well. I’m just glad I had the chance to hear it.

Black; Yellow; Blue; Red; White; Primary Colours; Refraction (35.42)
La Sorsa (v); Tom Ollendorff (elg); Sam Leak (org); Tara Minton (hp); Jay Davis (d). London, 2023.
33Jazz Records 33JAZZ99