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CD REVIEW: Donna Greenberg - Mav'rik
By Cyrus Rhodes - 01/10/2011 - 12:42 AM EST

Artist: Donna Greenberg
Album: Mav’rik
Label: Last Tango Productions
Genre: Blend of Jazz, World, and Flamenco
Sounds Like: Vanessa Williams, Miami Sound Machine, Natalie Cole
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Natures Glory, La Nina de Rosa, Old Country Road
Weakness: Overly choreographed vocals, Sloppy vocal delivery (Emotional Peaks Only)
CD Review:

Toronto based vocalist/songwriter Donna Greenberg release her latest CD entitled Mav’rik in 2010. This is her Sophomore release. The CD features many genres which includes salsa, Lullaby, Celtic Folk, Tango, Swing, & Bossa Nova just to name a few. So far so good!

The CD gently takes to flight with Track 1 “The Language of Love” a sultry intro piece that serves up delicate piano accents, well placed percussive accents, & melodic horn section against a passionate vocal delivery from Greenberg.  This first piece is like a musical welcome mat. Track 2 “You’re my Summer Peach Nightmares” shifts gears a bit with soothing jazz melody that serves up spicy Satchmo-esque groove with tight rhythm section against honey coated jazz accents from Greenberg making for an uplifting ditty. Track 3 “Nature’s Glory” delivers yet another heart felt piece with its gradual musical build. Greenberg let’s it all hang out emotionally on this piece. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Miami Sound Machine, Nora Jones, with maybe a dash of Natalie Cole. It’s obvious the players in Greenberg’s band are very accomplished. Kudos goes out to the impressive Piano & Horn Section. Along the way you will notice world class horn sections, impressive percussive accents, flute, stand-up bass, mandolin, fiddles, French Accordion, Hammond Organ, delightful Spanish type guitars, & solo guitar. The rhythm section (bass & drums) push the natural accents well. Last but not least Greenberg makes the whole thing work. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. Even more impressive is all the musical ground Greenberg covers . From Salsa, to Celtic, to jazz, Classical, R&B, European, to Gospel & even classic Americana - this CD pretty much covers it all. Also impressive is how well Greenberg composes herself within each genera. As for her vocal abilities, Greenberg’s voice works well within the confines of Jazz-rock. Her voice goes down smooth & fills the space peacefully & unobtrusively. Along the way you will notice some of her vocal influences – Vanessa Williams, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, & Barbra Streisand. I might add she takes some impressive vocal risks along the way indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. All songs are emotional, compelling & consistent across the board. I may not of mentioned this CD also features vocals sung in 4 different languages. From slamming “La Nina de Rosa”, “Country Road” to bluesy “I just want to cry” to easy flowing “There was Time” & Praise Be” & My Tearless Greif” to passionate “O Amando Coracao” & “The Springtime of Our Love” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Berceuse the perfect finale statement for a CD such as this.  

It’s hard to find any solid weakness with this production no doubt. It’s fair to say some of the high energy vocal passion feels a bit choreographed. Compared to other moments in this catalogue Greenberg can be a bit sloppy during these moments especially. Its times like that the vibrato & power have got work together in perfect unison. When executed properly the moments can be truly breathtaking. Of course no one does it better than people like Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion & Gloria Estefan. If I could say anything g to Greenberg right now I would humbly suggest studying how these aforementioned artists perform vocally during their more powerful & emotional moments. The scratch record intro on Track 2 sounds over the top & feels somewhat awkward.    

“Mav’rik” by Donna Greenberg is a compelling & world class musical production from start to finish. The songs are consistent across the board, & the musicianship is as first rate as first rate can get . All songs are short and sweet musical experiences. Each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Lastly - the strong suit of this production is the amazing diversity covering 5 genres effectively & flawlessly & the amazing musicianship that comes with the territory.  This is not an easy thing to do – especially for a vocalist. The singing abilities of Grenberg are impressive. Mav’rik from Donna Greenberg features 12 solid tracks all providing thought provoking wisdom with messages & performances that are very passionate & extremely powerful.

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