All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

234

Hal Schaefer: How Do You Like This Piano Playing?

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
File this prosaically-titled How Do You Like This Piano Playing? under the "music discovered in a backyard shed" category.

Pianist/composer/arranger/conductor Hal Schaefer's musical journey began with stints in big bands led by Benny Carter, Harry James, and Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, but his most notable gigs—from a fame-gaining perspective—have been as a vocal coach to the stars: Susan Heyward, Mitzi Gaynor, Robert Wagner, and—the jewel in that particular crown—leading Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe toward their singing contributions in the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), including Monroe's classic turn on "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."

Nice work if you can get it.

On this solo piano outing from 1960—taken from a tucked-away and long-forgotten tape discovered after a gardener warned Schaefer of an insect infestation in the artist's Florida backyard shed—Schaefer immerses himself in seven American Songbook classics like a man delving heart and soul into sacred tomes, in a reverent and deeply personal exploration of the permutations of familiar melodies.

The set opens with the potentially bombastic Irving Berlin song, "There's No Business Like Show Business." Schaefer turns the tune into a solemn prayer, tweaking sections of the melody until they open up to reveal their inner truths, then bumping some honky-tonk rollick into the mix, all the while maintaining the integrity of the piece.

Schaefer digs beneath the surface of "Dancing in the Dark," pulling up subterranean notes from beneath the dance floor and adding a bluesy bar room tone to the proceedings, twisting and stretching time while keeping the song recognizable. And he does this time and again, on Rodgers and Hart's "My Romance," Cole Porter's "Love for Sale," and Kern and Hammerstein's "All the Things You Are."

This is pared-down, no-nonsense playing, beautiful and exploratory expeditions that result in seven strikingly personal interpretations of the great songs laid down on tape all those years ago, without, it seems, any consideration given to commercial possibilities or pressing the work into (then) vinyl.

Thanks be to the sharp-eyed gardener. This CD is a gem. The bugs can't have it.


Track Listing: There's No Business Like Show Business; My Romance; Dancing in the Dark; All the Things You Are; Love for Sale; The Man I Love; Speak Low.

Personnel: Hal Schaefer: piano.

Title: How Do You Like This Piano Playing? | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Summit Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Fearless And Kind CD/LP/Track Review
Fearless And Kind
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read 25th Anniversary Project CD/LP/Track Review
25th Anniversary Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Any Day Now CD/LP/Track Review
Any Day Now
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Adrift CD/LP/Track Review
Adrift
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Folkjazz from Finland CD/LP/Track Review
Folkjazz from Finland
by Anthony Shaw
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read "Fran Vielma & Venezuelan Jazz Collective: Tendencias" CD/LP/Track Review Fran Vielma & Venezuelan Jazz Collective: Tendencias
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 2, 2018
Read "True Story" CD/LP/Track Review True Story
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 5, 2018
Read "Protean Labyrinth" CD/LP/Track Review Protean Labyrinth
by John Sharpe
Published: September 30, 2018
Read "Unbroken" CD/LP/Track Review Unbroken
by Walter Atkins
Published: July 7, 2018
Read "Sonic Creed" CD/LP/Track Review Sonic Creed
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 5, 2018
Read "Criss Cross" CD/LP/Track Review Criss Cross
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 22, 2018