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Warner movie industry executive Gary LeMel, emboldened by the success of his previous albums, has come out with his third effort for Atlantic Records. This album can be divided into two different sets. The first, which unfortunately dominates, has LeMel supported by a large set of strings in addition to piano and rhythm. The arrangements are lush and LeMel sings in a subdued, hushed manner. The second, and the fun one, is LeMel with just the piano and rhythm section. On some of these, he takes advantage of the top jazz players in the studio, especially pianist Billy Childs, to swing and do a bit of vocal improvising along the way such as on "Imagination". On "I Have Dreamed", LeMel starts off in a romantic manner, before Bob Sheppard kicks in with a Sheppard flute. In addition to his piano, Billy Childs is responsible for the arranging and orchestrations which add a degree of freshness to the familiar material. On "My Ship", LeMel rides in on the opening guitar of Heitor Pereira. The similarity to the style of Tony Bennett is especially evident on this Ira Gershwin/Kurt Weill song from the film Lady in the Dark. One of the ingredients that makes this a worthy vocal album is the variety of the program. Peppered among familiar classics are tunes like "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love" a production of a Peter Allen/Carole Bayer Sager collaboration and introduced by Rita Coolidge. A lesser known Stephen Sondheim work "I Remember" from his Evening Primrose is given a sincere rendering by LeMel. The record executive cum vocalist's latest is a treat and recommended. I just wish he would put aside the strings more often, he really doesn't need them.
Track Listing: It Amazes Me; My Foolish Heart; I'm All Smiles; I Got Lost in Her Arms; I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love; I Have dreamed; Once upon a Summertime; Here's to Life; My Ship; I Remember; Interlude - I'd rather Leave (reprise); Imagination
Personnel: Gary LeMel - Vocal; Billy Childs - Piano/Arranger; Bob Hearst - Bass; Gregg Hutchinson - Drums; Chris Botti - Trumpet; Assa Drori, Robert Sanov, Elizabeth Wilson, Anatol Rosinsky, Igor Kiskachi - Violin; Roland Kato, Lynn Grants - Viola; Armen Ksajikian - Cello; Paulinho da Costa - Percussion; Heitor Pereira, Steve Carnelli - Guitar; Bob Sheppard - Alto Flute/Soprano & Tenor Sax
I love jazz because it is a pure American music and can be expressed in different ways depending upon the artist.
I was first exposed to jazz while as a teenager I listened to Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong, on a jazz
radio station in New York City.