THE SINGER ....
I like to think I know a bit about vocalization, enough so that I can distinguish between a genuinely gifted singer as opposed to the one who should never give up the day job. I therefore, with unbridled enthusiasm, direct your attention to a collection recorded in 1985 which Fresh Sound Records has propitiously seen fit to re-issue. The cd's title is "Let's Be Buddies", and features the luminous LA singer Pinky Winters accompanied by legendary pianist Lou Levy. The selections are lovely ballads and light-hearted swingers. Some of the titles are: Along With Me (Harold Rome), Nobody Else But Me (Hammerstein-Kern), You Are There (Dave Frishberg-Johnny Mandel). The setting is duet-intimate, with unobtrusive bass lines provided by Monty Budwig, offering a fine "how to" lesson for any aspiring jazz/pop singers. Pinky's work is endearingly subtle, and she may be unfamiliar to some of you. If you appreciate the understated approach as much as I do, you will be enchanted. I hope you will treat yourself to this seriously impeccable cd.
THE PIANIST ....
It's time for me to tell you about the Toronto engagement (May 15-16, 2015 Jazz Bistro, Toronto) where I sang songs with one of America's most gifted musicians, the brilliant Bill Charlap. What can I say that won't be considered over-blown or exaggerated in any way except this: It was perfect in every possible respect. I can only report the facts: We performed to full houses and exceedingly appreciative audiences and, not to put too fine a point on it, we had a wonderful time together, and there wasn't a lead sheet in sight. Just two old friends having a great time with the music.
We met in Toronto on the 14th of May, and sat quietly at the piano in the club in the afternoon for about three hours, just choosing songs and keys, Bill tucking the list in his jacket pocket.. Then we shared a fine meal at Barberian's Steak House, and talked and laughed as only old pals can do. We have been friends for almost twenty-five years, recorded several cds, and performed in clubs and concert settings. He really did me a very big favor agreeing to play for me in Toronto. He's one very busy man. Take a look at his itinerary for the next few weeks: Amsterdam, Paris, --- HEADS UP London Jazz Fans!!! Bill's at Ronnie Scott's on Monday, July 13, --- Madrid, New York. It's a good idea to bookmark his web site to check if he might be "coming soon to a theatre near you." He played two flawless, spectacular sets at The Regatta Bar in Cambridge, MA on Saturday, June 20th, astonishing and delighting his devoted fans. I know. I was there.
THE BOOK ....
Other wonders: Joining the avalanche of documentaries, videos and assorted memorabilia associated with the centenary celebration of the birth of Frank Sinatra on December 12 this year, a highly anticipated book titled "Frank & Ava: In Love And War" by John Brady is now available at Amazon pre-order in advance of the October 13 publication date. Mr. Brady is a veteran editor and author of five books, including "The Craft Of The Screenwriter", and the investigative biography "Bad Boy: The Life And Politics of Lee Atwater". In the 1970's, while working for Reprise Records, he met Sinatra and many of the singer's colleagues whom he interviewed after Sinatra's death in 1998. John Brady lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
I have been a voracious reader since childhood when the books on the shelves at home were there because they were incentive free gifts distributed to movie-goers at our local theatre. During the dreary, frightening and sometimes exhilarating days and nights of the Second World War (aunts and uncles and us kids around Grandma's kitchen table, lustily singing "Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition"), my mother indulged her passion for Hollywood's entertainment mill by taking my sister and I to see movies three times a week.
Each time she bought the tickets, she was handed a book or a cup and saucer or a salad plate because at that time a complete service for four was the prize, doled out one item at a time. Our house had two full sets of china thanks to the Community Theater on Smith Street in Centredale, RI. The books were literary classics by Walt Whitman, Conan Doyle, Henrik Ibsen, and works of poetry by Keats and Shelley were added for good measure. On rainy summer afternoons, I would take a book to the side porch and begin to read, not with comprehension but with a growing appreciation for words and the enviable ability of the author to create images and emotions on the printed page. The love of reading continues unabated to this day, so just for the fun of it, here is a list of titles stacked beside my trundle bed, or waiting in the queue on the living-room coffee table:
I am enjoying "The Yellow House - Van Gogh, Gauguin, And Nine Turbulent Weeks In Provence" by Martin Gayford, noted British journalist and major jazz fan who once wrote a very flattering review of a performance of mine in London many years ago. He's currently the Art Critic for The Spectator.
I have the Graham Swift collection "England And Other Stories", winner of the Booker Prize, ready to be explored at a moment's notice. David McCullough's "The Wright Brothers" is waiting in the queue; I finished "All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr. It's a gripping story and had me in its thrall from page one.
I am now working on a Blog about my experiences as a quasi-research assistant to the perpetually fascinating character named Dave Garroway, a television celebrity of the 1950's and beyond, host of the Today Show on NBC in its infancy. He was an enigmatic man who was partial to female pop and jazz singers, and that's it: he thought I was a very good singer and hired me. Details will be published here on July 13th, Mr. Garroway's 102nd birthday. Meantime, here's Dave's familiar sign-off at the end of any program he hosted. Peace ....