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Lorraine Castellanos, fronting an ad hoc group featuring guitarist Joey Carano, bassist Rob Thorsen, drummer Fernando Gomez and her trumpet-master husband Gilbert Castellanos, celebrated the career of the recently departed Eydie Gorme at 98 Bottles on Sept. 7.

There is a nuanced vulnerability to Castellanos' voice that always reminds me of a fusion of Billie Holiday and Astrud Gilberto, and when she began the concert scraping a guira and intoning the lyrics to "Piel Canela," in Spanish, I was "all in" for the experience. Carano deftly combined single-note phrases with elliptical chords over the solid bass and drums of Thorsen and Gomez.

Sporting a sensual coo over the lugubrious swing of "Make Yourself Comfortable," Lorraine inspired warm trumpet displays and a Jim Hall-like phraseology from Carano.

The trumpeter assumed leadership for the surging bebop flow of "toot-toot Tootsie," peppering his long lines with tart ideas and sculpted tones, followed by Carano, who always manages to make disconnected staccato bursts gel into a swinging whole, while Gomez exploded with tight volleys between toms, snare and hi-hat to round out the string of solos.

Lorraine's voice is strong enough to function as an instrumental device -- aptly demonstrated on "Basin Street Blues," where her flawless pitch, elastic phrasing and rhythmic confidence fit nicely against the warbled, growling plunger mute essay of her partner in crime.

"What a Difference a Day Makes," found the vocalist tracing the contours of the melody with aching clarity, while Carano's elegant chromatic connections melded with Thorsen's moaning whole notes in a trio setting.

It all came to a close with a lilting medley of "Blame It On The Bossa Nova," melding into "Desafinado," for a hot minute, and resolving with "Girl From Ipanema," sung in Portuguese!

Nice stuff.

Photo by Lillian Serrano

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