Deborah PearlSouvenir Of YouNew Lyrics to Benny Carter Classics
Souvenir Of YouNew Lyrics to Benny Carter Classics, the debut release from multitalented vocalist/lyricist Deborah Pearl gives voice to the brilliant instrumental melodies of multiple Grammy-winning jazz legend Benny Carter. A longtime friend of Carter and his beloved wife Hilma, Pearl brings new life to the musical genius of this bandleader, composer/arranger, saxophone and trumpet soloist, whose artistry created a template for the Swing Era and beyond, in a career that spanned eight decades. Ms. Pearl, a talent with abilities nearly as broad as Mr. Carter's, highlights her singing chops, having also had success as a tv and screenwriter. (Designing Women, Waiting For Yvette) The result is a fresh new sound, both novel and mature, filled with artistry and wonder.
Carter told Pearl she could be a jazz singer" and has a phenomenal range" more than a decade ago seeing her critically acclaimed one-woman show, Chick Singers where she played different styles of singers from country to jazz, blues to opera. Reviewers agreed Backstage West superbly written and performed... Pearl could have a career just as an accomplished jazz singer." Two years ago, Carter's widow asked Pearl to evaluate an unsolicited lyric to Benny's People Time." It was then they decided Pearl would put her writing skills to work on the composer's music. In the words of Carter's biographer, Ed Berger (whose knowledge of all things Benny Carter gave Pearl much insight), Deborah's longtime friendship with Benny and Hilma Carter has given her a deep appreciation of Benny Carter, the man, and special insights into his music. She is the ideal person to put lyrics to these quintessential Carter melodic masterpieces and to perform them with the sensitivity and understanding they deserve."
The cd starts with the great Carter himself, LIVE!, leading his Big Band and the Rutgers University Orchestra on Happy Feet" from his MusicMasters Harlem Renaissance cd. Pearl's hip lyric to Happy Feet (At The Savoy)," is a nod to the amazing dancing at the legendary Harlem Ballroom (where Benny first met Hilma back in 1939). In a duet" reminiscent of Natalie and Nat King Cole, Deborah and her triopianist Lou Forestieri, bassist Kenny Wild and drummer Jimmy Branlyseamlessly trade off sections with Carter and the orchestra. Pearl fulfills Carter's prophetic vision of her abilities as a jazz singer with a scorching scat chorus, followed by Carter's solo and orchestra with Pearl doubling the altoist's line.
Pearl's words to Carter's Wonderland (Isle Of Love)," craft a vivid story to a nimble melody inspired by Benny's first meeting with Hilma and the rush of love at first sight. What a stumble/Happy tumbling in love with you." Then, Carter's popular People Time" (recorded by Stan Getz, Phil Woods, J. J. Johnson, Joe Wilder, and Roberta Gambarini with Hank Jones) is finally given the words its beautiful melody has long cried for. (Covered by Grace Kelly with Phil Woods on their Man With A Hat cd.)
Doozy Blues" is a witty account of love and cell phones, with Pearl rocking clever lines like I'll make your passion ring ding-a-ling/A swingin' ringtone that your heart can sing." Like Annie Ross' Twisted," it's a melody for horns sung with speed and dexterity. Pearl's Sunday Morning Comes," a ballad from Carter's Harlem Renaissance Suite, is followed by Scattin' Back To Harlem (aka Sugar Hill Slow Drag)," also from that suite, a blues that speaks of music's power to unite people in a universal cool state of mind" that is uniquely jazz.
Bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Dave Karasony join Forestieri in the trio for Again and Again (I Try To Pretend)," a captivating Carter melody, reminiscent of Victor Young's classic Beautiful Love." Pearl's haunting lyric dips and soars like a saxophone. Anniversary Dance" is an enchanting Carter tune in 3/4 time (his Waltzing the Blues" was one of the very first jazz waltzes), from his Japanese inspired Tales of the Rising Sun Suite. Featuring Carter with his Band and the Rutgers Orchestra, it opens with Pearl's Great American Songbook styled lyric and Forestieri's piano, segues into Carter's sumptuous sax solo, before Pearl steps out front with the band for a rousing finish. A tune easily replacing the standard Anniversary Waltz."
Not even Ed Berger could turn up the identity of Johnny True," so Pearl found inspiration in its melodic longing, and the name's historic civil war reference, leading her to honor the wives, mothers and families of servicemen who wait for their loved ones to return home from war. In Sail Away With Me" aka Sirius Samba," written by Carter for the award winning Faith Hubley animated film Journey To Next (one his countless scores for the silver screen), Pearl sweeps us away to a tropical vacation with a carefree overdubbed scat.
An Elegy In Blue," title track of Carter's 1994 MusicMasters album, was written to honor his late friend from Japan, Dr. Kiyoshi Makita, founding president of the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatrists. Pearl sings a touching story about the death of a friend who always looks on the bright side but is now gonea lyric filled with emotion and irony. The mood turns joyous on Sky Dance For Two," from Carter's critically acclaimed Central City Sketches cd with the American Jazz Orchestra. Here Pearl finds the inspiration in the idyllic reunion of Benny and Hilma, singing exultantly that love puts wings on your shoes." Pearl borrows the horn line from Carter's arrangement and scats it with the piano.
Carter composed the title track, Souvenir Of You," upon hearing of the passing of his friend, fellow altoist Johnny Hodges and played the moving melody throughout his career in memory of departed colleagues. Here Pearl addresses her dear friend, ending the cd with wise words that honor the man and his enormous contribution: Time takes our verses away/But melodies live on/Forever playing your song/At heaven's door/ And here, a souvenir of you."
A touching tribute to one of the greatest jazzmen to ever live, Deborah Pearl brings to life the incomparable melodies of Benny Carter on Souvenir Of You. She says, We hope Benny's music will play on for decades to come." Now with her words, it will sing on, too.
This story appears courtesy of Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services.
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