Susannah McCorkle: Ballad Essentials (2002)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Susannah McCorkle is the latest entry in Concord Jazz's Ballad Essentials series, and certainly is one of the most exceptional entries. Few singers of our generation or any had a way with a set of lyrics as McCorkle. She has the ability to brighten and ventilate even the most tired of tunes. Fortunately her taste in selecting her play list was so impeccable, she could devote her singing efforts to her inimitable, highly personalized interpretations which, when coupled with unsurpassed technical skills in the art of singing made her one of the most recognizable and popular vocalists of our time. McCorkle had a way to made subtle variations in the melody lines which gave each song she took on a special sound and accent. This aptitude comes through in "You Go to My Head". McCorkle seemed to prefer to working with guitar players, not as a duo, but as a provider of that resonance only that instrument can generate and worked well with her own timbre. Over the years, Concord provided her with some of the best, especially Howard Alden, Emily Remler, Al Gafa and Bucky Pizzarelli. She also liked to devote albums to a single composer or composing team. So some of the musical agenda here which comes from releases over the last almost 20 years, includes albums committed to music by Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, all-important contributors to the creators of the American Popular Song. Most of all, and more than anything as a singer, McCorkle always sounded as if she was in the room personalizing each song just for you. No doubt copious use of the guitar, which can be such an intimate instrument, helped to create that illusion. As she offers "Nuages" with Al Gafa's acoustic guitar, it is as if you can reach out and touch her. Whatever demons drove her to cut her life short, we are fortunate to have a large body of recorded material to remember her by and this CD compiles some of the best from that material. Highly recommended.
Some good Internet poages devoted to McCorkle are at http:// susannahmccorkle. home. mindspring.com and http://www. johnnymercer. com/susannah_mccorkle.htm.
Track Listing: How Long Has This Been Going On?; You Go to My Head; For all We Know; Why Don't We Try Staying Home?; Skylark; Manh
Personnel: Susannah McCorkle - Vocals; Allen Farnham - Musical Director, Piano; Jerry Dodgion - Alto Sax; Howard Alden, Paul Meyers, Emily Remler, Al Gafa, Bucky Pizzarelli - Guitar; Dick Sarpola, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Paul Meyers, Dennis Irwin. Ron Rubin, Steve LaSpina, Steve Gilmore - Bass; Chuck Redd, Vanderlei Pereira, Derek Hogg, Joe Cocuzzo, Keith Copeland - Drums; Thiago DeMello, Caf
Record Label: Concord Music Group