All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
The best comment that one could make regarding Sylvia Bennett's Songs From The Heart is that the singer's presentation of a dozen pretty well-worn tunes from The Great American Songbook is pretty good. Her bright and well-enunciated versions of such time-respected fare as Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine," Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" and Razaf/Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" are almost enough to reawaken interest in these veteran love songs. Only on "I Still Love You," a ballad contributed by producer Hal S. Batt, does the album produce a fresh and unknown song.
A secondary motif, the presence of what is billed as "The Three Tenors"tenor saxophonists Boots Randolph, Kirk Whalum and Ed Callefeels like a gimmick. None of these musicians are particularly well-regarded as having any connection with playing in support of jazz vocalists and their participation here seems somewhat superfluous.
Of the three, Randolph is the most traditional, with an obvious ability to 'play pretty for the people.' Long hailed as a honking saxophonist whose popularity during earlier decades surged with his Top 10 hit "Yakety Sax," Randolph recorded, in an unusual pairing, an album with altoist Richie Cole. Here, however, Randolph's style is closest to that of Coleman Hawkins' restrained and melodic sense and is best heard on Gershwin's "Embraceable You," Burke/Van Heusen's "Here's That Rainy Day" and the album closer from Herman Hupfield, "As Time Goes By." Randolph passed away in July, 2007 and never got to hear the finished album.
Kirk Whalum, one of the mainstays of smooth jazz, hails from Memphis and has a soulful presence on his many recordings. While he has experience with studio and film work, his métier has been solo albums in the Contemporary Jazz sub-genre or backing other artists in that field. There is certainly nothing inappropriate in his provision of tenor sax solos and fills on such tunes as Gershwin's "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and an up-tempo bounce on Gordon/Myrow's "You Make Me Feel So Young," but his delivery is less personable than that of Randolph.
The third tenor sax belongs to Ed Calle, long an exponent of the Miami music scene. He has vast experience working with a number of celebrities and first found popularity with the earlier recordings of Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine. Calle is given five featured tracks on the album and, although pleasant enough, lacks the jazz feel of Randolph on this date.
Songs From The Heart is a well-intentioned album, but one that relies too heavily on safety nets.
Track Listing: Embraceable You; They Can't Take That Away From Me; My Funny Valentine; Since I Fell For You; Someone to Watch Over Me; Ain't Misbehavin'; Here's That Rainy Day; I Still Love You; When Sunny Gets Blue; You Make Me Feel So Young; How Long Has This Been Going On; As Time Goes By.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach
I was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach. I fell in love with it. I wondered around until the owner (Pedro Soto) asked if I needed help. He then introduced me to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan and the rest is history. I walked out of the store with my first jazz recording: Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street.