For the first time, Italian-born vocalist and pianist Daniela Schachter devotes her fourth album to a single songwriter: Jimmy Van Heusen. Even a cursory glance at the song list will show that to be no limitation, as these are some of the most enduring classics in the Great American Songbook. Van Heusen had a long association with Frank Sinatra ("All the Way," "Come Fly With Me"), but his catalog has seen countless performances in pop and jazz: "Darn That Dream," "Here's That Rainy Day," "I Thought About You" (associated with Miles Davis)...the list goes on. There's not a song here that longtime jazz listeners will not recognize.
Schächter's clear, elegant delivery makes every selection sound fresh. She is aided by a responsive band, all longtime associates of hers: tenor saxophonist Mike Tucker, bassist Michael O'Brien and drummer Mark Walker. This material is so evergreen that there is no need for radical rearrangements, but the group does put their own stamp on them. Recognizing common harmonic patterns in Van Heusen's work, "Like Someone in Love" and "Imagination" are combined into a medley (which also features an exuberant saxophone solo, followed by the leader's piano solo, and an arco turn from the bass). "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" is taken at a mid-tempo pace instead of the usual ballad treatment.
"Come Fly With Me" sounds completely natural done as a bossa nova. For a change of pace "All The Way" is performed as an instrumental, a particular showcase for Schächter's piano playing, including a striking rubato unaccompanied opening. "Call Me Irresponsible" is done as a playful vocal duet with bassist O'Brien, and album closer "I Thought About You" is performed unaccompanied, pared down to voice & piano. Schächter contributed one original composition. The title tune combines Van Heusen-esque stylistic elements into a new love song, featuring a touching saxophone solo by Tucker. It sounds enough like the rest of the program that a casual listener might wonder if it's an obscure Van Heusen song!
If you're a fan of American popular song, you're a fan of Jimmy Van Heusen. Take this joyful album as a reminder, or just take it as a great way to pass some time.
Here's That Rainy Day; Darn That Dream; Come Fly With Me; Like Someone In Love/Imagination; The Second Time Around; Vanheusenism; All The Way; Polkadots And Moonbeams; It Could Happen To You; Call Me Irresponsible; But Beautiful; I Thought About You.
Daniela Schächter: piano, vocals; Mike Tucker: tenor saxophone; Michael O'Brien: bass; Mark Walker: drums.