228

Mary Foster Conklin: Blues for Breakfast: Remembering Matt Dennis

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
I don't review many albums by singers these days, but I couldn't pass up a tribute to Matt Dennis, one of the most talented and sadly neglected songwriters of the Twentieth Century. Before scoffing, remember "Angel Eyes," "Will You Still Be Mine," "Everything Happens to Me," "Violets for Your Furs," "Let's Get Away from It All," "Show Me the Way to Get Out of This World" and "The Night We Called It a Day." All were written by Dennis, who sang them (and others) for many years in nightclubs across the country while accompanying himself at the piano.

To Mary Foster Conklin's credit, she doesn't rest her case on these familiar melodies but has unearthed a cache of other forgotten treasures with lyrics by Sammy Cahn, Bobby Troup, Ted Steele, Jerry Gladstone and Ginny Dennis, and performs a duet with Cuban artist David Oquendo on "Encanto d'Amor," Dennis/David Gillam's "It Wasn't the Stars That Thrilled Me" translated into Spanish by Oquendo. Among the others, Dennis/Steele's "That Tired Routine Called Love" is especially clever, right up there with Rodgers and Hart's "Everything I've Got Belongs to You," Lerner and Loewe's "How Can Love Survive," any Cole Porter lyric, and Dennis/Tom Adair's "Let's Get Away" and "Will You Still Be Mine."

Conklin's midrange voice is sweet and expressive, her articulation clean, and she caresses each lyric with notable warmth and perception. She's not quite as irresistible as Dennis himself, but few singers, no matter how adept, have ever equaled his offhanded charm. The backup group is splendid, with pianist John di Martino doubling as arranger and saxophonist Joel Frahm making brief but welcome appearances on three tracks. Dennis/Troup's "Where Am I to Go?" is a graceful duet with guitarist Tony Romano. Conklin also sings the seldom-heard verses to "Angel Eyes," "Will You Still Be Mine" and (spoken) "The Night We Called It a Day."

Conklin deserves applause for breathing life into such moribund classics as "Before the Show," "Spring Isn't Spring Anymore," "Blues for Breakfast," "Let's Just Pretend," "Learn to Love" and the other songs already cited. The album is worth hearing for them alone, even more so for Conklin's earnest and caring interpretations. Even for those who thought they knew Matt Dennis, it should be a real eye-opener.


Track Listing: Before the Show; Spring Isn't Spring Anymore; Show Me the Way to Get Out of This World; Angel Eyes; That Tired Routine Called Love; Encanto d'Amor; Blues for Breakfast; Will You Still Be Mine; Where Am I to Go?; The Night We Called It a Day; Let's Get Away from It All; Let's Just Pretend; Learn to Love; Violets for Your Furs.

Personnel: Mary Foster Conklin: vocals; John di Martino: piano, arranger; Tony Romano: guitar; Sean Smith: bass; Ron Vincent: drums; Joel Frahm (1,3,13): tenor, soprano saxophone; Wilson "Chembo" Corniel (3,6): percussion; Leo Traversa (3,6): electric bass; David Oquendo (6): vocal, lyrics.

Title: Blues for Breakfast: Remembering Matt Dennis | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Rhombus Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Unification" CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Songs Of Bacharach And Manzanero" CD/LP/Track Review Songs Of Bacharach And Manzanero
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2016
Read "Ugly Beauty" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "The Colours Suite" CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show" CD/LP/Track Review Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Common Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Common Ground
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 16, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.