How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
With each release, cabaret singer, Broadway performer and apparently soon to become TV star with her own show on PPBS, Ann Hampton Callaway amazes with her versatility. Becoming even more adventurous than ever on this latest release with a play list that brims with interesting and varied material, from the Vocalese gem, "Twisted", made famous by Annie Ross, to the Louis Armstrong favorite "A Kiss to Build a Dream on" with lots of good stuff in between. On top of that, Callaway has managed to garner some of the top musicians around including Wynton Marsalis, Rodney Jones, Kenny Barron, Frank Wess and Lewis Nash. They provide the instrumental underpinning for the singer as she recognizes the great ones who have gone before. It turns out that one of the more poignant, and unintentionally melancholy, tributes the is the one to the irreplaceable Peggy Lee who died after this album was recorded. Callaway does Lee's "Is That all There Is?" and includes the narrative recitation that Lee used. There's some fine Dan Block clarinet on this cut. Other singers whom Callaway celebrates include Billie Holiday ("Good Morning Heartache"), Sarah Vaughan ("Tenderly") and Ray Charles and Betty Carter ("For All We Know"). Freddie Cole shows up to duet with Callaway on this tune. Marsalis does an especially ardent solo on "Good Morning Heartache" as does Frank Wess on "Tenderly", while Kenny Barron's piano lay down a soft, supple cushion for Callaway on virtually all the cuts. It's important to recognize that while this is a tribute album, Callaway doesn't simply duplicate what these singers who helped make the music famous. She stamps her own imprimatur on each of them. So you have the best of two worlds. Music made famous by great artists sung by another of similar caliber backed by some of the best musicians in the business. Signature is one of the first really outstanding vocal albums for 2002 and is easily recommended. Visit Ann's web home at www.annhamptoncallaway.com.
Track Listing: Tenderly; You Turned the Tables on Me; Route 6*; A Kiss to Build a Dream On; The Best Is Yet to Come; For All We Know**; Mr. Paganini; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning; Is That All There Is?; Twisted**; Good Morning Heartache
Personnel: Ann Hampton Callaway, New York Voices*, Freddy Cole** - Vocal; Kenny Barron - Piano; Rodney Jones - Guitar; Wynton Marsalis - Trumpet; Frank Wess - Alto Sax; Dan Block - Clarinet; Ben Wolfe - Bass; Lewis Nash, Neil Smith - Drums