Helen Merrill ‎– Casa Forte (Full Album)

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Helen Merrill is in top form throughout this 1980 session, backed by pianist Torrie Zito’s thoughtful arrangements. Merrill, who improvises like a member of the band, always knows the possibilities within each song she performs and finds a way to make it her own. A good part of the LP includes bossa nova tunes, highlighted by her deliberate lyrical treatment of “Wave,” in which Zito is her sole accompanist. Her silken voice is wrapped in strings for the lush takes of “So Many Stars” and “Like a Lover,” with Bucky Pizzarelli providing the perfect touch on guitar. “Natural Sounds” is an unjust obscurity, a touching ballad sung by Barbra Streisand in the mid-’60s on a live album, though Merrill handles it with far more finesse. There are also enjoyable renditions of standards like “Too Marvelous for Words” and “Close Enough for Love.” Recommended. (AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden).


A1 Natural Sounds 0:00
A2 Antonio’s Song 4:05
A3 Vera Cruz 8:59
A4 Wave 14:03
A5 So Many Stars 16:42
B1 Like a Lover 20:10
B2 Too Marvelous for Words 24:10
B3 How Insensitive 26:58
B4 Casa Forte 30:31
B5 Close Enough for Love 33:28


*A1, A5, B1, B3
Vocals – Helen Merrill
Violins – Barry Finclair, Charles Libonve, David Nathieu, Jerry Tarack, Jan Mullen, Lewis Eley, Marvin Morgenstern
Violas – Judy Giest, Lamar Alsop
Cello – Charles McCracken
Guitar – Bucky Pizzarelli
Percussion – Rubens Bassini
Bass – George Mraz
Drums – Grady Tate
Harp – Gloria Agostini

*A3, B2, B4
Vocals – Helen Merrill
French Horns – Jim Buffington, John Clark, Peter Gordon
Trombone – Urbie Green
Guitar – Bucky Pizzarelli
Electric Bass – Francisco Centeno
Percussion – Steve Kroon
Drums and Percussion – Dom Um Romão
Piano – Torrie Zito
Tenor Saxophone – Sal Nistico

*A2, B5
Vocals – Helen Merrill
Cello – Charles McCracken
Bass – George Mraz
Guitar – Joe Beck
Drums – Ron Zito
Piano – Torrie Zito

Vocals – Helen Merrill
Piano – Torrie Zito

Arranged and conducted by Torrie Zito.


Released: 1980
Duration: 37:04
Recorded: April, 1980 – May 27, 1980
Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York, NY

Produced by Helen Merrill and Torrie Zito