Manhattan Transfer singers Janis Siegel and Cheryl Bentyne have been responsible for the most durable recordings in the Telarc Jazz warehouse. To date, Ms. Siegel has released or been included on five Telarc releases: Couldn't be Hotter
(with the Manhattan Transfer), Got Swing
(with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra), I Wish You Love
, Friday Night Special
, and now, Sketches of Broadway
Departing from Tin Pan Alley and jazz standards, Ms. Siegel has prepared an excellent concept recording devoted to the songs of Broadway. These are well-known songs, to be sure, but they are not the war-horses that we have come accustomed to expecting from the jazz vocal community. Not that what Siegel is necessarily doing anything particularly novel. There are scores of jazz artists who have taken on this repertoire. The difference is that Siegel employs progressive arrangers and a no-fear attitude toward her interpretations. Case in point: the singer layers R & H's "The Surrey with the Fringe On Top" with Laura Nyro's "Stone Soul Picnic." Now that is a stretcha brilliant one.
Ms. Siegel combines "Out of My Dreams" from Oklahoma and "I Have Dreamed" from The King and I seamlessly with the aid of pianist Gil Goldstein, who channels the great Gil Evans in more ways than one. The singer rocks out on the Annie Get Your Gun selection "I've Got the Sun in the Morning (And the Moon at Night)," complete with the dirtiest guitar playing allowed in jazz by the axe-welding Romero Lubambo. Stefon Harris provides a decidedly understated solo against Lubambo's electric machinations. Stephen Sondhiem's "The Story of Lucy and Jesse" offers the most ingenious lyrics of the disc, expertly portrayed by the singer.
Another fabulous recording by Janis Siegel. I only hope for many more finely crafted recordings like this one.
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Personnel: Janis Siegel?Vocals; Gil Goldstein?acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, accordion; Stefon Harris?vibraphone; Romero Lubambo?acoustic guitar, electric guitar; John Patitucci?acoustic bass, 6-string electric bass; Antonio Sanchez?drums.