Opie Bellas: a jazz singer from the old school
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Once Upon A Time

Old Devil Moon / Once Upon A Time/ On The Strings Of My Heart/ A Quiet Storm / Swinging On A Star / I Thought About You / Here I Go Again / Be Patient Alice / It Ain't Over 'Til the Fat Lady Sings / Samba 3619

Collective Personal: Bellas, vcl; Jerry Dantry Frank Cunlmondo, p; Joe Hegrl, Eric Susoeff, g; Dave La Rocca b; Al Wrubelsky, Lenny Rodgers, Stowe Trottle, d; Michael Moricz, perc; Ralph Guzzl, tp, flh, No date, Pittsburgh (1990 release).

Now here's a now voice. Bellas, who doubles as a classical deejay in Pittsburgh, has a rich full instrument with good range and no rough edges. To quote from Lou Tracey's notes, "There is no one I Know who is any better at understanding the a story-content and the lyric-intent of a song." Statements like these are more commonly reserved for better-known (yet still underappreciated talents like Susannah McCorkle or Carol Sloane, but Opie shows the comparison to be appropriate throughout.

She's ebullient in "Devil Moon" and *On The Strings," wistful on "Once Upon A Time," reflective on " Quiet Storm," and conversational on 'Swing On A Star." And that's just the first side. Every chance taken, every daring intervallic leap, is carried off with seemingly no effort, even though it feels like she's rock skipping across a wild river.

Many of the tunes here were written by the album's participants with Tracey himself collaborating on five: "Quiet Storm" with Billy VerPlank. "Strings," Alice," and "It Ain't Over" with Negri, and "Here I Go" with Susoeff. There's an awkward moment in the reprise of the first verse of "I Thought About You" whore Opie holds the I way out, as if unsure on which note to land next. That's the only hint of someone who's not yet an established veteran. Very impressive.

Alan Bargebuhr
The Review of Jazz & Blues Creative Improvised Music

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