If there was justice in the world, Danny Barrett would be a household name and Mick Jagger would be a short-order cook at a fish-and-chips joint in Manchester. Such is not the case, so we must be content with the recorded glory of Barrett's voice.
Danny Barrett is a true crooner in the best sense of that word. There's more than a little Billy Eckstine and Arthur Prysock in his voice, and it is so refreshing to hear a full-throated baritone. Like Eckstine, he enunciates every syllable perfectly, which is important because in the songs that Barrett sings, every word is significant and full of meaning and emotion.
Indian Summer begins with pianist Bill O'Connell's lovely Latin arrangement of Johnny Mandel's seldom-performed "Quietly There." Barrett is accompanied very effectively by the flute of Dave Valentin. Two other players join this outstanding group of musicians: bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Bill Drummond.
One particularly intriguing aspect of Barrett's career is that he is a professional baseball batting coach. His slow rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" gives an entirely new slant to that old seventh inning stretch standard. James Randolph's reading of Barrett's tribute to Jackie Robinson in the middle of the tune lends the song a certain poignancy. Perhaps in the future, Barrett can offer up recordings of Dave Frishberg's baseball anthems, "Van Lingo Mungo" and "Dodger Blue."
"I Cover the Waterfront" is my favorite track. Excruciatingly slow, the song brims with remorse for love unrequited. The arrangement is particularly nice and features harmonica, guitar and vibes obbligati.
Barrett has made a wise decision to team up with pianst/arranger Bill O'Connell, who has the rare ability to make slow ballads swing with great intensity. But Barrett can also handle up-tempo tunes as well; witness his swinging take on "How Am I To Know."
Danny Barrett is a superb singer who definitely belongs in the deserving of greater fame category. Sometimes in his upper tessitura his voice gets a little weak, but if anything it lends his singing a certain frailty that is at once both emotional and moving. He understands not only the words he sings, but also their subtexts. You get the feeling that Barrett not only sings the Great American Songbook, he has actually lived it as well. This CD appeared ten years after his first recording. Let's hope that the next recording will come out in a much shorter time.
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Personnel: Danny Barrett, vocals; Bill O'Connell, piano; Kenny Davis, bass; Billy Drummond, drums; Paul Meyers, guitar; Dave Valentin, flute; Joe Magnarelli, trumpet; Jerry Weldon, tenor sax; Daniel Sadownick, vibes; Enrico Granafei, harmonica; James Randolph, narration