The Lies Of
Handsome Men From the album,
“Spark” (Hipnotic) Released September 30, 2014
Francesca Blumenthal wrote “The Lies Of Handsome Men” in the mid-80s, and it’s been covered by everyone from Blossom Dearie to Margaret Whiting to Dame Cleo Lane. Sara Gazarek does a sweet and wistful treatment on her “Blossom and Bee” set from 2012.
But each time the version performed by Marianne Solivan comes around at 62ndStreet.com, I turn the volume up a little. Sparse, bitter – perhaps, but in a more introspective way than outwardly directed.
I’ll admit that I have not listened to the whole album…I gave a quick listen to the tracks, and settled on both this one, and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” as the two that I’d put into rotation at the little radio experiment.
Both are outstanding, but I like “Lies” better. Ms. Solivan is best when the lyrics give her a chance to slow down and fill the space.
And she does that nicely here.
“Lies Of Handsome Men” is a track that is very highly recommended.
Lisa Bassenge – Canyon Songs (Edel/MPS) Released – September 25, 2015
About ten years ago, I was assigned to a two-week project in Berlin, and got a chance to do some diving into CD bins during the downtime. That’s where I discovered Lisa Bassenge. With nothing but a hunch based on the slick cover art (it *does* count), I bought the entire catalog up to that time.
It’s not for everyone. I clearly don’t have all of the sensibilities for German jazz, but when the Ms. Bassenge’s tunes hit me the right way, I’ll play them until the grooves wear out. (As if there were still grooves.)
And so that’s the way it is with “Canyon Songs.” It’s an eclectic mix of sixties classics: The Doors’ “Riders On The Storm” and Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” Joni Mitchell’s “The Same Situation,” and the Beach Boys’ “I Just Wasn’t Made for these Times.”
The sound is a little jazz, a little blues, and just a little country, as on Rickie Lee Jones’ “Last Chance Texaco.” It’s a winner, and so is a laid back and swingy version of Tom Waits’ “Blue Skies.”
Recorded in Los Angeles, produced by Larry Klein, who’s worked with Melody Gardot and Madeleine Peyroux, Ms. Bassenge’s new record company is clearly putting some money into the production, hoping for a breakout beyond Germany. German trumpeter Till Bonner joins on three of the tunes.
You’ll want to check to make sure it all resonates with you, but the whole album is priced right digitally, and if you’re like me, some of these tracks only get better with repeat listening.
I’ve been a fan for years. It’s about time Ms. Bassenge’s work is properly recognized in the US.
I haven’t mentioned how much my old web hosting company, GoDaddy disappointed me. I left the country for a couple of weeks, and came home to find the website down, messed up beyond (apparently) any hope of repair. An hour with GoDaddy’s usually helpful support left me with no files.
Yeah, I know. Backup. That’s on me.
New host, now. The site was due for a refurb, anyway – and I’ve been ready to take it in a new direction for sometime.
Stay tuned. Thanks for checking. Don’t go too far away for too long.
Stevie Holland – Life Goes On (150 Music) Released – June 30, 2015
Many singers (or those who represent them), make comparisons in their publicity to giants in the business.
“Like Ella Fitzgerald,” one might say, “(NAME) is a vocalist who…”
Or, “In a style reminiscent of Peggy Lee, (NAME) has a unique sense of…”
You get the idea.
So when I get a comparison in my head that’s sort of off that well worn track, I get a little nervous. Not that I’m necessarily trying to win anyone’s approval; rather, the fear is that I’ll be so out of left field that it will demean the whole piece.
Stevie Holland reminds me of Mel Tormé.
Tormé had a style that sounded like anyone could do what he did. Anyone with lots of practice, spot-on ability to hit the notes, an impeccable, nobody-can-touch-me sense of swing, and the confidence that says yeah…anyone can do this.
Go ahead and try.
So, so effortless, she makes it sound. The great ones do. Never so much as in this set, that opens with that Arlen/Mercer classic, “Skylark,” and glides through pieces both old classic (“Tea For Two), new classic (James Taylor’s “Another Gray Morning), and fresh – Ms. Holland’s own “Tomorrow’s Looking Brighter Today,” with husband and composer Gary William Friedman.
Grammy award winner Todd Barkan (This year’s “Best Latin Jazz Album”) produces. The backing band includes Randy Ingram, piano; Peter Brendler, bass; and Jeff Davis on drums. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton guests on three tracks, and a string quartet appears on two.
It may sound easy, but don’t try this at home, kids.
Lauren White – Experiment (Cherry Pie) Released – April 4, 2015
“Inspired by the recordings of Irene Kral,” about whom Lorraine Dahl wrote in her book, Stormy Weather: “…she was a master of quiet understatement and good taste.”
And this is largely a quiet recording, with songs just a skosh away from the usual set of standards, like “Show Me,” the Lerner-Lowe tune from “My Fair Lady,” or “Lucky To Be Me,” a mid-40s tune with music by Leonard Bernstein (!), and lyrics from Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Or entirely different takes on the very familiar – a very introspective “Gentle Rain,” performed as quiet and bluesy ballad before breaking into the beat we may all be more used to.
Whether the playful material from Dave Frishberg (“Wheelers And Dealers”), or the more melancholy material of Fran Landesman (“It Isn’t So Good”), Ms. White delivers with a serene intensity – finding the emotional center of the material.
Backed by the Quinn Johnson Trio, which includes Mr. Johnson on piano, bassist Trey Henry and Ray Brinker on Drums, this set rides that thin line between cabaret and jazz nicely, and is highly recommended.
Tracks in bold added to the playlist at 62ndStreet.com.
Here’s one of my latest “Oh, my” moments. Melody Gardot has a new set coming out in June – “Currency Of Man.” A few of the tracks are available now at the usual places. Here’s one of them – “Same To You.”