Melody Breyer-Grell and the Gershwin songbook make a good combo on this, her second release, ably abetted by Don Braden (sax), Jim Rotondi (trumpet), Gloria Cooper (piano), Dean Johnson (bass), Matt Wilson (drums), John Hart (guitar) and Kahil Kwame Bell (percussion). The vocalist's classical and musical theater training blends well with the richness of George's harmonies and Ira's intelligent lyrics.
Breyer-Grell has chosen a large chunk of the Gershwin collection to exploresome which many have done but also a few more obscure numbers. These songs are all about being in and out of love and mostly written for Broadway. Breyer-Grell's approach is to tell the story with full respect for the lyrics and through the shadings of her voice, able to sound like a little girl one minute and a grown woman the next.
The arrangements are interesting and varied. Breyer-Grell sings verses that are rarely done (as on the title track and "Who Cares ) and the seldom-done second chorus to "But Not For Me." Also notable is the almost forgotten "I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise," done in a bluesy manner with Gershwin's "Second Prelude used as the intro and outro.
The band works as an organic whole but in particular, Hart's guitar is soulful, Matt Wilson's drumming is impeccable throughout and Gloria Cooper demonstrates skillful accompaniment. This CD is a multi-hued tapestry with more depth than the traditional vocal workout and a warm tribute to some of America's greatest music.
Track Listing: Somebody Loves Me; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Someone to Watch Over Me; Fascinating Rhythm; I've Got a Crush on You; Who Cares?; But Not for Me; I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise; Love Walked In; How Long Has This Been Going On; Let's Call the Whole Thing Off; They All Laughed; Embraceable You/Our Love Is Here To Stay.
Personnel: Melody Breyer-Grell: vocals; Gloria Cooper: piano; Dean Johnson: bass; Matt Wilson: drums; Bon Braden: saxophone; Jim Rotundi: trumpet; John Hart: guitar; Kahlil Kwame Bell: percussion.
I was first exposed to jazz by my high school girlfriend's father. On the one hand he was the school's Vice Principal, on the other
he was a big Miles Davis fan. He gave me my first jazz record, Miles at the Blackhawk.