Boston denizen, multi-talented Krisanthi Pappas used her first album to establish her vocal credentials by recording a tribute to the music of George and Ira Gershwin. Her second is a tribute to her childhood, creating a musical fairy tale that adults will enjoy. If this fun album is an accurate depiction of Pappas' childhood, then she must have had a wonderful time growing up. She recreates every child's fantasy with a medley from Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Here (and elsewhere) she shows her significant scatting skills urged along by John Payne's clarinet. Her version of "A-Tisket A-Tasket" is much different than Ella Fitzgerald's. She takes this jazz nursery rhyme and turns it into a wild, swinging, Brazilian romp, with some authoritative drumming by Bill Duffy. This album has many more surprises. She turns soft rock in the Joni Mitchell and Carol King mode with her own "Wayne" featuring fine bass playing by Steve Skop. The whole group has a lot of fun with a Wizard of Oz medley that does not include "Over the Rainbow". "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead" is a swinging celebration and triumph while the other two selections are stages for some excellent soloing by members of the rhythm section. This medley is an album highlight. Pappas then totters on the brink of womanhood with a hesitant and then demanding request that special someone "Teach Me Tonight".
Pappas' talents extend far beyond just singing. She wrote several of the compositions for this session, and the words are reproduced in the liner notes. She follows the footsteps of other excellent singers who acquitted themselves well on piano, like Jeri Southern, Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan. Her pianist technique is much like her singing, light and delicate with a fine sense of the melody. She sits at the black and whites on her own Reflections to present a pleasant time out from vocalizing. But she also emulates Mel Torme by showing her touch on the drums on "Here's to Toughy McGee". Elvin Jones and Jake Hanna need not worry. But she does not embarrass herself by any means. Payne does some R & B tinged sax honking on this cut.
At times Pappas' voice seems to be tailor-made for the intimate, cabaret club setting. She does perform a lot in the Boston are in that type of venue with her jazz ensemble. But she can belt it out with the best of them when the occasion calls for it. Her intonation is impeccable, as is her phrasing and diction. Combine this with a cheerful play list and a cast of great musicians and you have My Back Yard which is highly recommended. Say hello to Krisanthi at her Internet address www.krisanthi.com.
Track Listing: Willy Wonka Selections: Pure Imagination, I've Got a Golden Ticket; Oompa-Loompa Doompadee-Doo; Back in Your Own Back Yard; One Slow Dance a Day; A-Tisket A-Tasket; Growing up Medley: Happiness, When We Grow Up, Corner of the Sky; Wayne; You Make Me Feel So Young; Teach Me Tonight; Congratulations!&; Here's to Toughy McGee; Am I Who you Want Me to Be; Wizard of Oz : We're off to See the Wizard; Ding Dong! the Witch Is Dead, The Merry old Land of Oz; Reflections*; My Back Yard
Personnel: Krisanthi Pappas - Vocals/Piano*/Drums#; Bill Duffy - Piano; Steve Skop -Bass; John Di Santo - Drums/Percussion; John Payne - Saxophone/Clarinet/Flute; Rick Hammett - Trumpet&
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition. He was on the band bus the next day as Dorsey's alto sax and clarinet player, and never looked back. He played with great bandleaders such as Freddie Martin, Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, some before he was out of his teens (they had to lie about his age to get him into nightclubs). Many older musicians have told me he was the greatest alto sax player they ever worked with. He was equally great on clarinet and was clarinetist and harmony singer for cocktail jazz pioneers, the Ernie Felice Quartet.
He eventually left the road and settled down, and that's when I came in. By that time, he was, by day, vocal group session leader/player/arranger for classic jingles and commercial music produced in Dallas. At night, he played in society bands, jazz combos and elegant showrooms. Tuesdays were slow in the showrooms, so band members' families got in free, and my mom took me to see him backing such legends as Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Steve and Eydie, and a very old Ella Fitzgerald. Between that, hearing his record collection, growing up around the legendary musicians and singers who were like aunts and uncles to me, and just listening to him practice around the house, filling the neighborhood with incredible jazz sax riffs, I couldn't help becoming that weird kid who was listening to Peggy Lee, Ella and Manhattan Transfer when my classmates were listening to rock, country and soul.
Even though he died before I ever sang professionally, he remains my inspiration and all my CDs are dedicated to him. I like to think that he'd like my music, since it's built on the foundation he handed down to me.