In the Pacific Northwest, where she built her career, Greta Matassa wins wide acclaim; four times, the readers of Earshot, the Seattle jazz magazine, have voted her the best jazz vocalist in the Northwest. Jim Wilke, the Seattle jazz maven and host of the syndicated Jazz After Hours radio program, praises her versatility. She has a fearlessness in approaching material,” Wilke says, that makes her like an instrumentalist in a jam session.” Seattle Times critic Misha Berson described Matassa as a vocal chameleon who can sound husky or crisp, ebullient or wailing, girlish or jaded.” Matassa displays all of those aspects of her talent in this live recording made at Bake's Place, a small club in Redmond, across Lake Washington from Seattle.
Matassa's fascination with songs began early. Her family moved frequently when she was small, but by the time she entered middle school, they had settled on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, opposite Seattle. This is what she said about her childhood:
Growing up, my parents were big jazz fans and we had a lot of jazz music around the house. They were happy to encourage my interest in music. My father is a visual artist, and we used to spend hours talking about abstract expressionism and how that related to jazz.
We listened to all the great stuff. I really liked the music from the thirties and forties, early Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday. I used to listen to a lot of Fred Astaire, a lot of Frank Sinatra. I never took lessons. While I was teaching myself to sing, my dad and I haunted used record stores. He'd choose anybody he knew that he thought would be interesting, and we'd just pick some people we'd never heard of and bring them home. There was a Dutch singer I liked, Rita Reys. She had a style kind of like Sarah Vaughan. I had never heard of her. I haven't heard of her since. I liked a woman named Marian Montgomery, and one named Pam Gardner. But they were all secondary to Anita O'Day, who was a huge influence on me. So was Frank Sinatra. I loved Frank, and I still do. And Astaire; he phrased the way he danced; so effortless and light and classy. I liked his approach.