Susannah McCorkle is the latest entry in Concord Jazz's Ballad Essentials series, and certainly is one of the most exceptional entries. Few singers of our generation or any had a way with a set of lyrics as McCorkle. She has the ability to brighten and ventilate even the most tired of tunes. Fortunately her taste in selecting her play list was so impeccable, she could devote her singing efforts to her inimitable, highly personalized interpretations which, when coupled with unsurpassed technical skills in the art of singing made her one of the most recognizable and popular vocalists of our time. McCorkle had a way to made subtle variations in the melody lines which gave each song she took on a special sound and accent. This aptitude comes through in "You Go to My Head". McCorkle seemed to prefer to working with guitar players, not as a duo, but as a provider of that resonance only that instrument can generate and worked well with her own timbre. Over the years, Concord provided her with some of the best, especially Howard Alden, Emily Remler, Al Gafa and Bucky Pizzarelli. She also liked to devote albums to a single composer or composing team. So some of the musical agenda here which comes from releases over the last almost 20 years, includes albums committed to music by Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, all-important contributors to the creators of the American Popular Song. Most of all, and more than anything as a singer, McCorkle always sounded as if she was in the room personalizing each song just for you. No doubt copious use of the guitar, which can be such an intimate instrument, helped to create that illusion. As she offers "Nuages" with Al Gafa's acoustic guitar, it is as if you can reach out and touch her. Whatever demons drove her to cut her life short, we are fortunate to have a large body of recorded material to remember her by and this CD compiles some of the best from that material. Highly recommended.
Some good Internet poages devoted to McCorkle are at http:// susannahmccorkle. home. mindspring.com and http://www. johnnymercer. com/susannah_mccorkle.htm.
Track Listing: How Long Has This Been Going On?; You Go to My Head; For all We Know; Why Don't We Try Staying Home?; Skylark; Manh
Personnel: Susannah McCorkle - Vocals; Allen Farnham - Musical Director, Piano; Jerry Dodgion - Alto Sax; Howard Alden, Paul Meyers, Emily Remler, Al Gafa, Bucky Pizzarelli - Guitar; Dick Sarpola, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Paul Meyers, Dennis Irwin. Ron Rubin, Steve LaSpina, Steve Gilmore - Bass; Chuck Redd, Vanderlei Pereira, Derek Hogg, Joe Cocuzzo, Keith Copeland - Drums; Thiago DeMello, Caf
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.