This album pays tribute to singers of the past who set the standards for today's crop of jazz and traditional pop singers. The technique vocalist Terry Blaine and stalwart pianist, Mark Shane, use is as fascinating as the tribute itself. On most of the cuts, Blaine overdubs her voice creating the impression that she is accompanied by the Boswell Sisters as she recreates each member of that group with their own distinctive voice. It's hard to believe these voices are coming from the same person. Some interesting and unlikely vocal combinations are the result. On "Looking at You", Cole Porter's under recorded gem, it is as if Lee Wiley is paired with the Boswell Sisters. "I'm No Angel" indicates what Mae West and the Boswell Sisters would have sounded like performing together. An unlikely combination, but a lot of fun to hear nonetheless. On "My Very Good Friend the Milkman", a 1935 composition made famous by the inimitable Fats Waller, Mark Shane does Waller's piano while Blaine and her "background singers" do a jivey version of this perky tune. While most of the cuts are indeed "hot" there are some nicely done slow ballads. Alan Vache's clarinet noodles behind Blaine's poignant delivery on "You Go to My Head" before he takes a nice melodic Goodman-like solo while recalls Bea Wain. Many other singers of the past are recalled on this entertaining album like Mildred Bailey, Peggy Lee, Ethel Waters and Ella Fitzgerald with the album's kick off song "A-Tisket A-Tasket.
The best of intentions notwithstanding, no album, especially an adventurous one like this, makes it unless the supporting musicians are completely and unreservedly with the program. Blaine (and we) are especially lucky to have the high caliber of musicians on this album. All of them get a chance to show their wares. Vache's clarinet has already been mentioned. Then there's Joel Helleny trombone which takes on a Jack Teagarden Texas tailgate mode on "Dinah". Ed Polcer's cornet further adds to the musical authenticity of the1920's-40's this album recreates. Listen to him swing on "Concentratin' on You". Ed Metz's Dave Tough-like drums lay down that pulsating drum beat which was so characteristic of the period the album covers. But it is Mark Shane's piano which glues the whole thing together as his stylistically flexible piano fashions just the right mood for each song Blaine sings. That these two are musical soulmates is very evident.
Too Hot for Words serves to reminds one how enduring the work of the great stylists of the past (and some from the relatively recent past) was and the rich vocal legacy they left behind. And in the hands of talented professionals, the reminder is a very entertaining one indeed. Highly recommended.
Tracks:A-Tisket A-Tasket; Dinah; Looking at You; It's Too Hot for Words; My Very Good Friend the Milkman; It's You; A Ship without a Sail; The Joint Is Jumpin'; Concentratin'; on You; You Go to My Head; My Mother's Son-in-Law; I 'm No Angel; You Meet the Nicest People in Your Dreams; It's Easy to Remember; Repeal the Blues; Goodnight My Love
Personnel: Terry Blaine-vocals; Russell George-bass; Tom Desisto-guitar; Allan Vache-clarinet; Joel Helleny,Tom Artin-trombone; Mark Shane-piano; Ed Metz, Jr.-drums; Ed Polcer-cornet; Harry Allen-tenor sax
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.