By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Dida
Mandatory military service is required of all 18-year-old Israeli citizens: men must serve for three years, women for two. Guitarist/vocalist Dida Pelled already had established herself as an in-demand musician in her homeland when she entered military service. Following that, Pelled relocated to the United States, received a full scholarship to Boston’s Berklee College of Music and a scholarship to New York City’s New School University, where she’s still studying. In very short order, she began to play with name musicians at well-known jazz venues in the Big Apple.
This album features Pelled as a guitarist and vocalist in a trio setting, supported by bassist Tal Ronen and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. They’re joined by two guest trumpeters: Roy Hargrove contributes to three tracks, and Fabio Morgera to two.
Pelled’s choice of tunes is excellent for a newcomer; more than half the tracks are familiar standards, which provide a meaningful comparison between her talents and those of other artists who visited these same songs. A couple of compositions by Wes Montgomery and Horace Silver — “Fried Pies” and “Calcutta Cutie,” respectively — also are included.
Bottom line: This young lady swings. Her guitar style combines the strumming technique of icons such as Charlie Byrd and Joe Pass, and the single-string finesse of Herb Ellis, Wes Montgomery and Larry Koonse. She is adept at both balladic and up-tempo material, and her fingering is crisp and clean.
As for her skill as a vocalist, she has a great jazz feel, and I love her relaxed tonal quality. Finally, her choice of supporting musicians indicates a clear awareness of the important role they play in the success of all jazz vocalists.
Pelled is a promising talent with a very bright future.