Dida Pelled | Plays and Sings

Young and Kicking

Running down the list of the New Yorker and international places where Dida has successfully performed is like being before a veteran. Birdland, Smalls Jazz Club, BBKing’s, Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center, The Living Room, are just some of the stages on which Dida has performed and that every musician would trample on The amazing thing is that this pretty Israeli singer and guitarist is little more than twenty years old. Her brief story destroys the fallacy of the indolent young people, confused, slack, without any idea about a near future. Pelled, on the contrary, is hyperactive, confident, with clear ideas on her horizon and full awareness of her journey. Just consider how she proposes herself in the live performances, in a trio with Tal Ronen on double bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drum set. Always smiling, enthusiast, aware of the dream she has being living, but realistic about the long and impervious road to go.

I must admit that is very attractive to see her slight figure shouldering a semi acoustic Gibson, the emblem instrument of the greatest jazz guitarists, from Kenny Burrell to Joe Pass, from Jim Hall to the immense Wes Montgomery, and sliding her agile fingers along the pearly rhombus of the fingerboard, in order to express her blues soul. The linguistic game of self introduction, the joke with her name, Dida I do, is proposed in a clear blues key. However, this is just one of the roots that found her musical culture. The other is the jazz of the first half of the ‘900, the mainstream, the swing, the blue note, rather of a nightspot than of an underground basement, the cool, the smooth, surely not the genre on which Duke Ellington had to state that: “by and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn't want your daughter to associate with”.

The Big Apple scene has been the place of the fatal meeting with the trumpeter Fabio Morgera, who, fascinating by the style which at the same time this artist sung and played with, has immediately proposed to the patron of Red Records label, Sergio Veschi, the idea of a debut album. The outcome has been Plays and sings, title that synthesizes a production work cut out around Dida’s individual talent, although with the tight-knit support of her usual travel companions, Ronen and Hutchinson, and the precious participation, besides Morgera himself, of the great Roy Hargrove.

From the composition point of view, the record does not present any novelty. Only standards. The innovation is that all the songs have been re-metabolized on the technical/stylistic baggage and on the musical sensitiveness of the musician. Certainly, the citations are not insignificants. Two symbols of the entertaining jazz like Our love is here to stay, by Ira and George Gershwin, and Can’t take my eyes off you, by Frankie Valli, that you imagine originally composed for big and crowded auditoria, are scaled down to suit a small club, to enhance a voice still adolescent and a discrete and well-mannered guitarism. Among the dialogues Hargrove’s sharp trumpet fits in and, surprisingly, while seems to be hover, the trumpet goes into a little combo dimension. After you’ve gone, by Turner Layton, is the classic piece composed to tell the sadness and the uneasiness that follow the abandon, the feelin’ blue and sad, that requires demure, intimate tones. Hutchinson’s double bass is moaning and pours out his pain by paraphrasing the lyrics that say: “You know I've loved you truly many years, loved you night and day. How can you leave me, can't you see my tears?”. The guitar solo is almost an invocation to not forget, to come back, but there is no rage. Fried pies is the tribute to Wes Montgomery, the demiurge, the supreme inspiration of who loves the six strings, the mythological guitarist, to whose spring our artist has started to drink from in tender age. The blues matrix governs the introduction that is strongly rhythmical, dominated by a lively trumpet that progressively dampens in the fluidity of a solo guitar mixed with graceful chords, in an alternation of acceleration and quiet, with a discreet space also for a drum set that is beaten more on kettledrum, drum roll and cymbals than on bass drum. All the ingredients compose themselves in a final of renovate rhythm with an imposing trumpet that comes out again. There’s a hull in my life, by Revel and Gordon, is a track that resumes and deepens After you’re gone’ theme: “The moment that you’re gone away, there is no night, there is no day”. Mantra lines, interpreted in a demurer way, with instruments and voices suffering beyond every limit. Ir atzuva – It’s a sad city sings the praises of the homeland; the author is Matti Caspi, a Galilean songwriter, considered a seminal artist, besides an inventor of new musical languages. The arrangement creates atmosphere, in an interweave between ethereal guitar arpeggios and the cymbals. With Three coins in the fountain, by Jule Styne, and More than you know, by Rose/Eliscu/Youmans, Fabio Morgera enters the arena. In the first track, he gives us a masterly and authoritative solo, to whom Dida replays at ease on her Gibson, that seems to know adequately. In the following track, Fabio displays an intriguing mute, while Hutchinson brushes embroider the surface on which the cantato assumes night characteristics, as to accompany the dancing couples till the last drink. Stompin’ at the Savoy, is a standard of 1934, composed by the saxophonist Edgar Sampson, one of the most interpreted classics in the history of music. Among all, Judy Garland, Charlie Christian, Art Tatum, Clifford Brown, Max Roach, Ella and Sachmo, Jim Hall and Sarah Vaughan. Calcutta cutie belongs to Horace Silver. He composed it without going to India. Dida’s solo theme has not Horace’s unbridled energy but the use of a pressing, obsessive and percussionistic rhythmic gives to the track an ethnic aura at which styles many jazz players, Ellington and Coltrane among all, have taken a stab. That’s all, by Brandt and Haymes, is the envoy, the film end. Languid, melancholy, like all the ending stories. Just voice, guitar and sentimental mood.

This work, in its disarming simplicity, is never trivial or didactic. It makes you breath passion, although among the notes are some expressive naiveties that are attributable only to her age. Dida’s wit lies in the ability of never exceeding in sterile virtuosities or falsely astonishing and in taking care of the precision and transparency of the musical message, without any excess or superstructure. Harmonies are very fresh and pleasant, intent on the research of a maturity that will soon arrive, mostly if with such level of production and accompanists.


The recording has been made as in the live event that is with Dida singing and playing at the same time. This is an index of awareness of her own means, courage and talent. Keep a watch on this girl, a star might be born.




Plays and sings

Red Records


Total time 58’16’’


by Giuseppe
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