It's not reached stampede proportions, but there are a number of entertainment professionals crossing over into singing. Gary Le Mel, a top Warner Brothers movie executive came with his album Moonlighting last year. Now there's TV personality. Tom Wopat with his first vocal album The Still of the Night. Wopat is probably best known for his role on the Dukes of Hazzard. He also appeared as Cybill Shepherd's husband on Cybill and has been on Home Improvement. On the music side, he played opposite Bernadette Peters in a successful Broadway revival of Annie Get your Gun. Building on that success, he signed a contract with Angel Records and violà, a vocal CD emerges and it's not bad at all.
Wopat tries on this album to establish himself as a romantic crooner in the spirit of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and even Dean Martin. His voice and delivery sometimes sound like Tony Bennett's, then other times like Bobby Darin. Every now and then one hears a scintilla of country, to be expected from a singer who makes his home in Nashville. Most of the tunes are romantic ballads which Wopat delivers with feeling and intensity.
He gets a lot of help by some excellent arrangements performed by top of the line musicians. The title tune is done with a soft bossa nova beat, which Wopat stays bit behind. He's aided and abetted here by the ardent tenor of Dave Tofani. "Let's Fall in Love" gets medium swing big band treatment with the smooth trombone of Dave Bergeron laying down a solid foundation for the rest of the players to build on, and they do with elan and aplomb. There's a good solo on this track by the Count Basie like minimalist piano of Rob Mounsey. A heart wrenching, eloquent rendition of the under recorded gem "I Get Along without You Very Well" with just Mounsey's piano the sole backing, is an excellent piece of work. There's an unusual arrangement of "Anyone Can Whistle" backed once more by Mounsey's piano coupled with a very heavy string section. Instead of the usual upbeat optimistic interpretation one hears, Wopat treats this song as a plaintive regret that he can't do much more than whistle. After all anyone can purse their lips and blow. But it takes real talent to do other stuff. A fun cut is Wopat and Antonia Bennett's delivery of that masterful song of seduction "Baby It's Cold Outside." His strong, masculine baritone contrasts with the innocent sounding voice of Bennett.
Among the very excellent musicians who have joined Wopat in the studio are Bucky Pizzarelli, Steve Jordan and Marc Johnson, and the fine pianist Larry Goldings drops by to work with Wopat on a lovely "For all We Know." This is not a ground breaking, earth shattering recording. However, it is a pleasant 48 minutes of good vocalizing and fine playing. Good music to have around to create a romantic mood. Visit Tom at his Internet site, www.wopat.com.
Track Listing: Let's Fall in Love; Where Is Love?; Baby, It's Cold Outside*; Anyone Can Whistle; Where or When; In the Still of the Night; The Moon's a Harsh Mistress; Makin' Whoopee!; Ruby; I
Personnel: Tom Wopat, Antonia Bennett* - Vocal; Rob Mounsey, Larry Goldings - Piano; Marc Johnson, Tim Cobb -Bass; Bucky Pizzarelli - Guitar/Vocal; Steve Jordan - Drums; Lawrence Feldman - Alto Sax; Dave Tofani, Charlie Pillow - Tenor Sax; Roger Rosenberg - Baritone Sax; Dave Bergeron - Trombone; Jeff Kievit. Jim Hynes - Trumpet; Barry Finclair, Elena Barere - Concert Master; Abe Appleman, Jonathan Dinklage, Joyce Hammann, Regis Iandorio, Ann Leathers, Nancy McAlhaney, Jan Mullen, Ricky Sortomme, Donna Tecco; - Violin; Ron Carbone, Karen Dreyfus, Crystal Garner, Judy Witmer, Jeanne LeBlanc, Sue Pray - Viola; Richard Locker, Diane Barere. Jeanne LeBlanc - Cello; John Beal - Bass; Steve Ferrera - Shaker; Jimmy Webb - Harmony Vocal
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.