10

Ginger Berglund & Scott Whitfield: Solitary Moon

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Ginger Berglund & Scott Whitfield: Solitary Moon
The unabridged subtitle of this endlessly charming album is "Ginger Berglund & Scott Whitfield Sing the Johnny Mandel Songbook." For those who were unaware that there is a Johnny Mandel Songbook apart from "Emily," "The Shadow of Your Smile" and "Close Enough for Love," this scintillating summary is a guaranteed eye-(and ear-) opener, lovingly packaged and earnestly delivered by Berglund and her multi-talented husband, trombonist / arranger / singer Whitfield.

That "memorable trio" of songs are here, as indeed they should be; but Mandel, who began his career as a trumpeter, has been writing beautiful music for more than half a century, an appraisal that is borne out from the opening measures of the too-seldom-heard bossa "Cinnamon and Clove" (lyric by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, who also inscribed "Solitary Moon," "A Waltz from Somewhere," "Sure as You're Born," "I Won't Believe My Eyes" and "Where Do You Start?"). With all due respect to other architects of the Great American Songbook, Mandel should clearly be reckoned among the best of them. His melodies are invariably bright and engaging, the lyrics cogent and persuasive (besides the Bergmans, Mandel's able collaborators on these fifteen tunes include Dave Frishberg, Arthur Hamilton, Paul Francis Webster, Paul Williams and the peerless Johnny Mercer).

As if things weren't tasty enough already, Whitfield and Berglund sweeten the deal by shuffling the deck, employing everything from a big band to small ensemble, solo guitar to a cappella vocal (by the Modernaires, in which group Berglund and Whitfield are card-carrying members) on "Where Do You Start?," not to mention a host of immoderately talented teammates. Ken Peplowski and Don Shelton are the clarinet soloists on "First" and "I Never Told You," Peplowski (with Whitfield and bassist Jennifer Leitham) on the spicy "El Cajon." The session is further enriched by the awesome talents of tenors Pete Christlieb and Roger Neumann, alto Rusty Higgins, guitarist Jack Petersen, drummer Kendall Kay, pianist Corey Allen, percussionist Airto Moreira and trumpeters Steve Huffsteter, Jonathan Dane, Anne King and Carl Saunders (with whom Whitfield solos and scats on the kinetic "Sure As You're Born").

As noted, Mandel started as a jazz trumpeter who wrote for big bands (most notably, the Woody Herman classic "Not Really the Blues"), and one of the songs here, "Little Did I Dream" (clever lyric courtesy of Frishberg), began life as "Hershey Bar," an instrumental written for the great tenor saxophonist Stan Getz. "Dream" is also the number on which Berglund / Whitfield come closest to emulating the buoyant interplay of role models Jackie Cain and Roy Kral. Other highlights (to be fair, every number could be singled out for similar praise) include Berglund's lovely duet with Petersen on the tender ballad "You Are There"; a second bossa, "I Won't Believe My Eyes," conspicuously brightened by the Bergmans; Arthur Hamilton's perceptive lyrics on "First," "Vacation from the Blues" and "I Never Told You"; the seldom-sung introduction to "The Shadow of Your Smile," and group vocals by LAVA (the Los Angeles Vocal Alliance) on "El Cajon" and an upbeat "Emily." LAVA is comprised of Whitfield, Dane, Larry Williams and Rich Bullock.

Mandel, now eighty-eight years old, had to wait a long time for a recital of his music as genuinely inspired as this, but at last it has arrived. He should be enormously pleased, as would anyone who listens to The Johnny Mandel Songbook. A clear and well-earned five stars.

Track Listing

Cinnamon & Clove; Little Did I Dream; Solitary Moon; First; The shadow of Your Smile; El Cajon; Close Enough for Love; A Waltz from somewhere; Where Do You start?; Vacation from the Blues; You Are There; Sure As You're Born; I Never Told You; Emily; I Won't Believe My eyes.

Personnel

Ginger Berglund: voice; Scott whitfield: voice, trombone; Airto Moreira: persussion; Anne King: trumpet, flugelhorn; Billy Kerr: alto sax; Carl Saunders: trumpet; Corey Allen: piano; Don shelton: clarinet; Ira Nepus: trombone; Jack Petersen: guitar; Jamie Hovorka: trumpet; Jennifer Leitham: bass; John Dickson: horn; Ken Peplowski: clarinet; Kendall Kaye: drums; Kye Palmer: trumpet; Linda Small: trombone; Nancy Newman: baritone sax; Pete Christlieb: tenor sax; Rich Bullock: bass trombone; Roger Neumann: tenor sax, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Rusty Higgins: alto sax, flute, alto clarinet; Stephanie O'Keefe: hoen; Steve Huffsteter: trumpet; "The Modernaires" (Julie dickinson, Ginger Berglund, Jimmy Stephens, Joe Croyle, Scott Whitfield); "LAVA" (Los Angeles Vocal Alliance (Jonathan Dane; Larry Williams; Scott Whitfield, Rich Bullock).

Album information

Title: Solitary Moon | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Bi-coastal Music

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Jammin' With KC
Jammin' With KC
Sylwester Ostrowski
Read What Comes Next
What Comes Next
Peter Bernstein
Read A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
Bruno Parrinha/Abdul Moimême/Carlos Santos
Read Suite!
Suite!
Roberto Magris
Read Rhythm City
Rhythm City
Ptah Williams, Larry Kornfeld, Rob Silverman
Read Stringers & Struts
Stringers & Struts
Rempis/Parker/Flaten/Cunningham
Read Live In Maui
Live In Maui
Jimi Hendrix Experience

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.