Bob Stewart is a talented singer, a throwback to such crooners of the '40s and '50s as Dick Haymes, Buddy Clark, the Eberle (Eberly) brothers and their musical cousins. The voice is clear and pleasant, midway between tenor and baritone, the lyric interpretation forthright and unvarnished. The liner notes say Stewart has been compared to Sinatra and Tormé, but that may be stretching things a bit. He's closer to Vic Damone, but even here the gulf between them is wide. Still, Stewart has his own winning way with a song, and it's no surprise that he has returned to his first love after abandoning the music business several decades ago to make a living. On this fourth album since his return, Stewart scans a number of pages from the Great American Songbook and detours halfway through the performance to reprise half a dozen charming themes by Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. He's accompanied on all but three selections by the nondescript Hollywood Sound Stage Orchestra whose drab arrangements make Mantovani or the 101 Strings sound electrifying. Pianist Ray Cohen fares better on "Imagination" and "Last Night When We Were Young," as does the Todd Firth Trio on "Forget the Woman." Too bad they couldn't have backed Stewart on every number. As you may have guessed by now, Stewart isn't a Jazz singer, nor does he pretend to be. He sings Love Songs his way, which is low-key but likable.
Contact: VWC Records, 800-468-9378. Web site, www.vwcrecords.com; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Also available from www.amazon.com, or by phoning / faxing 800-468-9378 or 914-654-0213.
Track Listing: Come Rain or Come Shine; This Is a Lovely Way to Spend an Evening; I Hadn't Anyone Till You; In the Still of the Night; The More I See You; My Foolish Heart; One Note Samba; Once I Loved; Quiet Nights; Meditation; The Girl from Ipanema; Dindi; Imagination; Night and Day; I'll be Seeing You; Forget the Woman; Last Night When We Were Young (59:08).
Personnel: Bob Stewart, vocals, with the Hollywood Stage Orchestra, Ray Cohen (13, 17), the Tedd Firth Trio (16).