With her program of popular songs and show tunes, Eileen Bertsch brings back memories. They're the songs that we've come to know and to love. Her strong voice, backed by a studio orchestra and strings, forces itself through with a powerful will.
As if acting on stage during a musical drama, the singer projects deliberately, while interpreting each selection full steam ahead. Bertsch overwhelms with "Over the Rainbow" as she belts its soaring melody out powerfully. No one in the theater would miss such a display. Strings and piano melt in behind her vibrant delivery, which stands out for its push. As the key changes, her emotion pushes even harder, giving her interpretation an eruptive quality.
Much of the program works in a similar manner, giving the singer free rein to climb every mountain and move higher and higher. Delicate moments through pieces such as "Aspettami" and "My Funny Valentine" are balanced by piercing tirades that belie the theater and its powerful passion.
The high point of the album comes with Carole King's "You've Got a Friend," which receives a funk arrangement, ushering in horns, guitar, keyboards, bass, and percussion. Here, Bertsch lets her hair down and comes alive, as she's joined by a male vocalist on this thrilling arrangement. Trumpets soar, organ grinds out a soulful refrain, the rhythm section hammers out a strong foundation, and both vocalists turn up the heat. They're on fire.
The song list on the jacket of the album contains several distracting errors. However, the music gets its due through her honest portrayal of each thrilling role. The session contains stellar ensemble and solo work from Bertsch's accompanists. Outstanding contributions from saxophonist Denis Solee, guitarist Randy Dorman, and trumpeter Dan Jacobs make a distinctive impression. The singer is fortunate to have such good musical company by her side.
Personnel: Eileen Bertsch: vocals; Dan Jacobs: trumpet; Denis Solee: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute; Roy Agee: trombone; Randy Dorman: guitar; Warren Hartman, Edgar Struble, Ron Oates: piano; Chuck Jacobs, Dave Pomeroy: bass; Jonathan Jacobs, Bob Mater: drums; Tom Roady: percussion; John Catchings: cello; David Angell: violin.