Is it remotely possible that we need yet one more collection of standards from the Great American Songbook? Are computer servers not clotted to the point of infarction with the detritus of recordings by everyone who thinks he or she is a jazz singer? But here is a recording that reminds us why a collection of old songs, performed true to the melody, is so important to American music and her sacred Songbook. Gemma Sherry's Songs I Love is such a recording. With a bell-like coquettish, yet wholesomely scrubbed clarity, Sherry polishes the best that Tin Pan Alley has to offer, returning it as an integrated collection and informative whole. For this recording, Sherry is backed by the rhythm section of pianist Billy Woodman and bassist Mike Waite, the two sharing a solid musical empathy. They are in the mix, neck-and-neck, just behind Sherry. It is a warm and comfortable setup.
Hailing from Down Under and presently calling Philadelphia, PA home, Sherry approaches her performance with a refined understatement that translates into a true affinity for melody and the composers' intentions. Her recital of this baker's dozen standards is similarly fashioned. What is not here? Gratefully, "My Funny Valentine," "Feelings" and "The Man I Love." What is here orbits "love" in all of its grandeur, excitement, misery and longing. The enduring loss of "Some Other Time" with the optimism of "Satin Doll," the bookend double-barrel schizophrenia of "You Don't Know What Love Is" with "I Fall in Love Too Easily," and the perfectly in tune triptych of "Here's That Rainy Day," "Lush Life" and "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" all act as miniature suites highlighting the challenge and triumph of love.
But Sherry does not stop there. She is in cahoots with Woodman, who has arranged all of the material simply and with grace. These are head arrangements that feature the familiar introduction-vocals-piano solo-vocals-coda format. All effort is saved to the melodies as conceived by their composers and words, their lyricists. It is bliss. The disc ends with another triptych made up of "You Go to My Head," "'Round Midnight" and "Save Your Love for Me." It is the lifespan of love: heady excitement, heartbreak and memory, prayer for reconciliation.
Some Other Time;
You Don’t Know What Love Is;
I Fall in Love Too Easily;
Here’s That Rainy Day;
Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most;
When Sunny Gets Blue;
Blame It on My Youth;
You Go to My Head
Save Your Love for Me.
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