All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Extended Analysis

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...

176

Meg Clifton: Meg Clifton: You're a Sweetheart

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count
Meg Clifton
You're a Sweetheart
Independent
2005

You may ask, "Who needs another female singer with a great voice and a sophisticated sound who sings jazz standards? Good point—they exist in droves these days. But—if it's Meg Clifton you're talking about, that's another story. She's just special enough to make a difference to your discriminating ears. For Clifton is not just another jazz singer. She's a young woman with mature artistry and the right instincts. She can take a jazz standard and transform it into something fresh while remaining faithful to the composer's intent. Clifton's new CD, "You're a Sweetheart, offers ten superbly crafted standards sung with consummate precision yet with a vitality that quickens and awakens the music.

Take the way she renders the ballad "Alone Together. Typically done slowly with a mournful quality, Clifton takes it uniquely at an up tempo and transforms it into an anxious, existential version of the loneliness that lovers can feel, bringing out aspects of the tune and lyrics that you don't ordinarily perceive. While the other songs are done in the more usual way, Clifton's care with phrasing and her vocal personality bring out their implicit meanings in a way that other singers just don't. Some standards earn their immortality by virtue of their inner, core meanings, and only a very few vocalists have the ability to bring them out in a way that goes beyond clichés. Clifton is one. Her renditions of "A Time for Love" and "God Bless the Child" are especially poignant.

I've been fortunate to have heard Clifton in person in Philadelphia, and I interviewed her for All About Jazz with her friend and frequent musical associate, Mary Ellen Desmond. An essential element of Clifton's artistry is her personality. She emits a light, radiant feeling that tells you that "life is fantastic but ironic. This is sexy. If Mae West were young, slim, and brilliant, she'd be Clifton. The cover photo for the CD captures this essence, with Clifton in the garb of a Hollywood glamour girl or perhaps more like a "desparate housewife, and she's winking her eye, as if to lend an ironic twist to the phrase "You're a Sweetheart. The songs are done with utmost seriousness and attention to detail, but Meg makes us realize the tenuousness of life and—at times—its cosmic humor.

The arrangements, by Meg Clifton herself, assisted by John Swana, are superb. Meg, true to her view of the vocalist as a participating member of the group, gives her musicians ample space for improvising. And they take good advantage of the opportunity. John Swana and Eric Alexander are at their level best. Guitarist Peter Bernstein is right on target with a warm, vibrant sound and interesting ideas. Bassist Lee Smith lends his fine rhythmic bounce and perfect bass lines to the occasion. And drummer Dan Monaghan swings lightly but strongly throughout.

Clifton is already proving herself to be one of the most resilient vocalists in the business. She has a background in rhythm and blues and rock and roll and a fine feeling for all the varieties of jazz music, from swing to bebop and beyond. Recently, I received a copy of a CD called "Hippie Jazz put out by vibraphonist Tony Miceli, and what Clifton does with "hippie era songs like "Ina Gadda Da Vida is mind blowing. But "You're a Sweetheart is just a top-of-the-line gentle-on-the-ear bunch of standards that will please anyone who loves a good song sung in the traditions of divas like Billie Holiday, Irene Kral, and Chris Connor. Meg Clifton is one to listen to—and watch for developments.


Personnel: Meg Clifton: vocals; Eric Alexander: saxophone; John Swana: trumpet; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Lee Smith: bass; Dan Monaghan: drums.

Tracks: Can't Give You Anything but Love; Here Comes the Sun; You're a Sweetheart; I Wish You Love; You Must Believe in Spring; Speak Low; A Time for Love; Alone Together; Up Jumped Spring; God Bless the Child.


Track Listing: 1. Can

Personnel: Meg Clifton, vocals; Eric Alexander, saxophone; John Swana, trumpet; Peter Bernstein, guitar; Lee Smith, bass; Dan Monaghan, drums

Title: Meg Clifton: You're a Sweetheart | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 Extended Analysis
Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Love, Gloom, Cash, Love Extended Analysis
Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis
Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead Motion Picture Soundtrack Extended Analysis
Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead...
by Doug Collette
Published: July 14, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis
Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition" Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial" Extended Analysis Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Love, Gloom, Cash, Love" Extended Analysis Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017