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Enthusiasts of the Great American Songbook will thoroughly enjoy Ezra Weiss' Get Happy, his third release. Even though six of the ten tracks on this album are standards, two Weiss originals fit within the same boundaries. It is only on the last two tracks, also Weiss originals, where the album veers into other musical territory.
Beginning with Weiss' "For Heather," the pianist displays a strong and attractive melody line with a decidedly romantic attitude. The Strouse/Adams show tune from 1962's All American, "Once Upon A Time," is sung by Heidi Krenn in an ethereal voice evocative of Betty Carter. Weiss begins by weaving Bill Evans' piano intro from his well-known "Peace Piece" into the song, an interesting touch. Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn's "It's You Or No One" has become, over the years, far more popular as a jazz vehicle, and here Weiss' ensemble supplies a typical version that features tenor saxophonist Kelly Roberge. Weiss' "What I Can Never Say" is a most attractive ballad that stands up nicely in direct comparison to "It's You or No One. Alto saxophonist Antonio Hart provides the melody and a lengthy solo on this ten-minute track.
Another vocal, this time from Samantha Grabler, brings Rodgers and Hart's "Blue Room" into view. "Get Happy," from the pens of Arlen and Koehler, begins with an intro from Weiss that flows into a neo-stride solo piano version. One of the biggest pop songs of the mid-1950s, "You'll Never Walk Alone" (from Carousel ), is performed as a piano trio.
It is only with the last two tracks that Weiss changes his tactics. "Run Under the Fountain," is a pop funk number, with Weiss using Fender Rhodes. On "Don't Need No Ticket, an R&B instrumental that borrows from Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," Weiss shows how he can channel into 1970s pop effectively, again on Rhodes.
Track Listing: For Heather; Once Upon A Time; It's You Or No One; What I Can Never Say; Blue Room; Get Happy, You'll Never Walk Alone; He Loves and She Loves; Run Under the Fountain; Don't Need No Ticket.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.