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Perry Beekman: Bewitched

Jack Bowers By

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Perry Beekman: a guitarist who sings or a singer who plays guitar? It's a question that doesn't take long to answer. Clearly, Beekman is a guitarist who sings. That's not to say, however, that he sings poorly. Beekman has a pleasant voice, which he puts to good use on this album of marvelous songs by the dynamic duo of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. On the other hand, he's no Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett or Nat "King" Cole. To be fair, however, none of them played guitar. Beekman's resonant tenor is strong, he enunciates clearly, has as much range as needed and sings on-key. What he lacks is the sort of charismatic persona with which others have been invested, and that springs no doubt from the fact that Beekman is first and foremost a guitarist, and after that a singer.

Having said that, it should be added that Beekman sings and strums quite well, his working trio (pianist Peter Tomlinson, bassist Lou Pappas) is first-rate, and Bewitched delights from start to finish, thanks not only to their obvious talents but to those of Rodgers and Hart, whose songs have stood the test of time and are being played and enjoyed all over the world more than seventy-five years after most of them were written. One could reasonably argue that there aren't many people, even those to whom music isn't especially important, who wouldn't recognize the melody to, say, "Thou Swell," "My Heart Stood Still," "This Can't Be Love," "The Lady is a Tramp" or most of the other well-known themes in this catalogue.

Hart's lyrics are another matter, and although they did not always live up to Rodgers' consistently inspired melodies, at his best he was a master at putting words to music, an appraisal that is underscored by Beekman's opening numbers, "I Wish I Were in Love Again" and "Mountain Greenery" (Rodgers and Hart's breakout hit from the 1925 Theatre Guild production, The Garrick Gaieties). "While you love your lover let blue skies be your coverlet . . ." Sharper lyrics than that have seldom been written. Beekman gives them due consideration, as he does every other item on the appetizing menu.

The over-all vibe is reminiscent at times of Cole's celebrated trio from the '40s, albeit without Nat's incomparable vocal skills—an observation that is especially valid on the album's lone instrumental track, "Blue Room." And while Beekman's name stands alone on the marquee, there are not one but three headliners here, as this couldn't have happened without the singular talents of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.

Track Listing: I Wish I Were in Love Again; Mountain Greenery; Wait Till You See Her; Have You Met Miss Jones; Bewitched; Thou Swell; It Never Entered My Mind; My Heart Stood Still; There’s a Small Hotel; Spring Is Here; This Can’t Be Love; Blue Room; This Funny World; Falling in Love with Love; The Lady Is a Tramp.

Personnel: Perry Beekman: guitar, vocals; Peter Tomlinson: piano; Lou Pappas: bass.

Title: Bewitched | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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