Svetlana: Night at the Movies

C. Michael Bailey By

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Svetlana: Night at the Movies
Russian-American singer-composer Svetlana (she has a last name, Schmulyian, but prefers the monomoniker) is onto something. Her debut recording, Night at the Speakeasy (OA2 Records, 2016) with her self-appointed Delancey Five, was a structured affair which concentrated on the music of the "Jazz Age" (save for the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows") performed in a Jazz Age fashion, featuring trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. Svetlana returns with another themed recording, Night At the Movies, again featuring Gordon, on a collection of film music from near and far. Pharrell's "Happy," from Despicable Me 2 (Universal Pictures, 2013), finds itself between "Moon River" (Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)) and "When You Wish Upon a Star" (Pinocchio (1940)).

The singer duets with Gordon (who is doing his best Satchmo) on a period-performed "Cheek to Cheek," with the trombonist soloing with gusto. He again duets on "Happy," one of the most effective covers on the recording. The highlight of the recording is not even in English; Svetlana covers pensive Russian-language ballad "No-one's Home" from Ирония судьбы (Irony of Fate, 1978) which could be considered the Soviet reflection of It's A Wonderful Life (RKO Radio Pictures, 1946) with darker lyrics by the Soviet poet and dreamer Boris Pasternak. The singer also includes "Watch What Happens" from the French film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, featuring tart solos by trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso and pianist Sullivan Fortner.

Smile-worthy is Svetlana's duet with daughter Isabel, on Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" from the 1936 film Modern Times (United Artists). She ends the disc with a big band, singing "Over The Rainbow," including the original introduction. With a beautiful voice full of mystery, Svetlana shows her stripes in colorful fashion here, at the movies.

Track Listing

Moonlight; Sooner or Later; Cheek to Cheek; Pure Imagination; Moon River; Happy; When You Wish Upon a Star; Watch What Happens; Remember Me; No One’s Home; Smile; It Might Be You; Almost There; Over the Rainbow.


Svetlana Shmulyian: voice / vocals; John Chin: piano; Elias Bailey: bass; Matt Wilson: drums; Rogerio Boccato: percussion.

Album information

Title: Night at the Movies | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Starr Records

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