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.
On The Face of My Love, countertenor Ken Greves answers what could well be an eternal question: Why make another album about love? And he does so emphatically: Because there may be a more complete way to tackle its rainbow of moods and feelings. It is very possible that no one in recent memory has gotten into character to perform the role of lover with such majesty and fire as Greves plays out the myriad shades of sadness and joy associated with the eternal passion that exists where heart and mind meet. Greves' lover is almost as lonely as Heathcliff but, with classical triumph of human endeavor, settles the score with the demons who threaten to break his spirit.
If all this sounds as if it were a monumental Grecian operatic narrative it almost is, except that in the case of Greves' "Face of Love," its story is fused into a molten mix of the Great American Songbook couched in a slow, sullen swing, as it bumps and grinds, and rubs elbows with jazz's animated idiom. Greves' story of love tumbles down in short bursts of intense, almost in-the-moment energy, and feelings that are wrung out of the lyric line of each melody as the vocalist infuses the characters in each song with his own, deep interpretation. Beginning with the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn classic "Daydream," Greves sets the tone of his hopeful quest. This he finds with exquisite grace and elegance on "A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square."
Soon, of course, the storm of the relationship develops and the aching vocals capture the spirit of Greves' lonely feelings through masterful renditions of "Everything I Have Is Yours," "It Was Written In The Stars," "Alone Together" and two beautifully handled Billy Strayhorn charts. In the first, "My Flame Burns Blue" Greves sings the lyric interpretation by Elvis Costello of Strayhorn's "Blood Count," recreating the most definitive version of this song and the elementally sad, "Chelsea Bridge," where it seems the romantic world of Greves' character falls apart completely. However, throughout the album there is an ululation of feelings, moving up and down the spectrum of love's feelings as it labors towards a triumphant, all-encompassing joy. These are the moments of spectacular interplay between, and especially, pianist Wells Hanley, but also bassist Tom Hubbard and drummer Jacob Melchior.
However, it is the sympathetic manner in which vocalist and pianist dance to each other's tunes that makes this artistic relationship a memorable one. In this regard, Hanley and Greves recall the wonderful partnership between Kurt Elling and Laurence Hobgood. Hanley's svelte pianism is every bit a match with Greves' subtle intonations. On "Alone Together"with Greves center stage and Hanley in the shadows, just half a beat off the pacethe two artists reveal what true simpatico is. This track is the epitome of the sharp bursts of feeling that drive an entirely memorable album that begins and ends with classic interpretations of "Daydream."
Track Listing: Daydream; A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square; Where Have You Been?; You Stepped Out of a Dream/Dearly Beloved; Everything I have Is Yours; I Thought About You/My One & Only Love; Witchcraft/ That Old Magic; It Was Written In The Stars; Alone Together; My Flame Burns Blue; Day In, Day Out; There's a Lull in My Life; Chelsea Bridge; Someone to Light Up My Life; Don't Look Back; By Myself.
Personnel: Ken Greves: vocals; Wells Hanley: piano; Tom Hubbard: bass; Jacob Melchoir: drums.
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!