A bane of today's singer is finding fresh material. Regardless of how their music is, they don't want the choices for their program to include the just songs from the Gershwin Brothers, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Van Heusen and the other authors of the Great American Popular Song Book. Some pen their own material, others turn to contemporary material (e.g., songs by Sting) and try to give them a jazz feel which is hard since much of it is one dimensional. Singers with the "I need some new stuff" dilemma should consider the compositions of Boston-based Arnold Olenick.
If this album is any indication, Olenick clearly favors the cabaret style. He's also equally adept with ballads and up tempo material. His lyrics are the message rather than the medium for vocal pyrotechnics. Olenick's work is straight from the shoulder story telling, mainly in the contemporary mode. Five singers appear on this album and all are comfortable with Olenick's songs. Ruthie Ristich has a good feel for cabaret and thus a good feel for Olenick's material. "Must I Want only You?" sung by Jan Peters is one of the finer tunes on the album. Jane Meryll is another cabaret type singer story telling comes through on the five songs she sings, with an exceptional performance on "That's When I Found Spring" which would be suitable for a Michael Feinstein or Bobby Short. The only way any of these tunes have a chance of becoming popular among singers is if someone of the stature of a Feinstein, Short or Marlene Ver Planck picks up on them. Too bad as there is good stuff here.
Track Listing: Who Can Tell?; Must I Want only You?; This Kind of Thing; Sweet Talkin' Papa; No Way to Be Blue; That's When I Found Spring; Once upon a Time; Hopelessly Romantic; Blues That Never Go Away; The Game Ain't Over; It's Your Eyes; Love for Two; We Were Young; Rip Van Winkle Blues; Summer Is Over; No One But You; It's My Time!
Personnel: Jane Meryll, Ruthie Ristich, Will McMillan, Jim Porcella, Jan Peters - Vocals; Bobby Rosengarten Trio/Steve Olenick Trio - Instrumental backup; Steve Olenick - Keyboards
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.