106

Billy Stritch: Jazz Live

J. Robert Bragonier By

Sign in to view read count
Billy Stritch: Jazz Live Being a “left coaster,” I was not familiar with the name of Billy Stritch, so this has been a most felicitous introduction. As musical supervisor, pianist and arranger for Liza Minnelli, Stritch is probably better known on the cabaret circuit. But, as attested to by being named “Best Jazz Instrumentalist” by the Manhattan Association of Clubs and by this live outing, recorded at Jazz Standard in New York City, there’s nothing wrong with Stritch’s jazz chops, either as pianist or vocalist. His playing is swinging and lyrical, if occasionally a tad florid, while his voice is mellow and supple with clear articulation, spot-on intonation and smooth, effortless phrasing. In addition, he is very capably backed by two consummate professionals; listen, for example, to the expressive solos on “I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love With Me,” “Green Dolphin Street,” and “Crazy She Calls Me.”

The opener is taken at a brisk clip, faster than usual but cleanly. “Red Sails” is an instrumental, melding smoothly into the beautiful, under-recognized Ivan Lins composition “Sails,” with English lyrics by Gene Lees. Mel Tormé has had an obvious influence on Stritch, and with the former’s “Born to Be Blue,” Stritch pays respectful homage. The Gershwins’ “But Not for Me” is another lush instrumental; the chorus of “Mountain Greenery” is brightly up-tempo, with some scatting and re- harmonizing.

Kaper’s trusty standard “Green Dolphin Street” swings hard while resting Stritch’s pipes. Three tunes in the set bear Carmen McRae’s stamp: “I Can’t Believe...,” “Kellaway and Bergmans’ “I Have the Feeling...,” and the Brasilian “Upside Down” (Djavan’s “Flor de Lis”), with English lyrics by Regina Neves, the emotional high point of the album.

The tempo cools back down with “Crazy She Calls Me,” a lovely, fresh ballad that is sensitively done. With the exception of a new jazz waltz entitled “How Can I Lose You?”* and Arlen and Koehler’s “I’ve Got the World...,” it’s an all-Gershwin finale, coming down the home stritch, er, stretch. When it comes to tuneful, jazzable melodies, how much better can one do than that?

So, if a night out at a club for vocal jazz is your cup of tea, here’s your instant “pekoe in a jewel case.” Just add your favorite liquid refreshment, your favorite honey, sit back, and enjoy!


* Note: ”How Can I Lose You?” has some quite clever lyrics, such as: “No one should always lose; can’t I find some kind of peace? Nobody owns the blues, but I have a long-term lease,” and “Once I was quite a guy, confident, quiet and strong. Actually, that’s a lie; I’ve been feelin’ this way all along...”


Track Listing: The Best Is Yet to Come; Medley: Red Sails in the Sunset/Sails; Born to Be Blue; I Can

Personnel: Billy Stritch (piano and vocals), John Arbo (bass), and Dave Ratajczak (drums)

Title: Jazz Live | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Fynsworth Alley


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Resonance CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Black Focus CD/LP/Track Review Black Focus
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Spirit Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Spirit Forward
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 7, 2016
Read "For King & Country" CD/LP/Track Review For King & Country
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 6, 2016
Read "Tangofied III" CD/LP/Track Review Tangofied III
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "Coldest Second Yesterday" CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Cross-Platform Interchange" CD/LP/Track Review Cross-Platform Interchange
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Proverbe" CD/LP/Track Review Proverbe
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 15, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!