Eddie Skuller: Somebody's Fool (2007)
It didn't take a lot of rocket science to unravel the meaning of Somebody's Fool. The opening tracks are the Etta Jones-associated hit "Don't Go To Strangers," the traditional "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" and George Harrison's "Give Me Love," all done in a stripped-down ballad presentation. Eddie Skuller's voice hovers somewhere between the ionosphere and the microphone, revealing an obvious affinity for the vocal stylings of Jimmy Scott (aka Little Jimmy Scott).
As concerns the album title, one of Scott's signature songs is "Everybody's Somebody's Fool," a vintage favorite of the 1940s and '50s R&B scene composed by Ace Adams and Lionel Hampton. My own recollections go back to the rendition in 1957 by James Shepherd and the Heartbeats.
Eddie Skuller claims an affinity with Jimmy Scott, not only in vocal timbre, but in how he conects with each individual tune. He is being marketed as a contemporary version of Scott, and his new cabaret show is titled Sad Songs to Make You Happy. In its annual "Best Of" issue in 2003, the Village Voice tabbed Skuller as the "...best macabre standards-crooner without a washed-up career to make it necessary..." Skuller plays a lot of cabaret clubs, like Joe's Pub in Manhattan and Odette's in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Musically, Skuller does not simply work with the Great American Songbook. He includes typical titles like Raye/DePaul's "You Don't Know What Love Is," Chaplin's "Smile," Billie Holiday/L. Allen's "Strange Fruit," as well as another fave of Jimmy Scott, Bullock's "When Did You Leave Heaven." He also takes on more contemporary titles like Bob Dylan's "Not Dark Yet," Joe Henry's "Stop" (the only tune at a mid-tempo pace), and the aforementioned George Harrison composition. Skuller is also known for including an upbeat version of Van Morrison's "Moondance" in his live shows.
Skuller works within a piano trio setting and understandably shares an empathy with pianist Ethan Herr, bassist Elvind Opsvik and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza.
Track Listing: Don't Go To Strangers; Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child; Give Me Love; Stop; Strange Fruit; Lilac Wine; When Did You Leave Heaven; Smile; Not Dark Yet; You Don't Know What Love Is.
Personnel: Eddie Skuller: vocals; Ethan Herr: piano; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Vinne Sperrazza: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced