VOICES Notes and news on Jazz Vocals releases
22 JAN 13 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Bobby Short was the king of New York cafe society, holding court at the famed Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan for an astounding 36-year run. One of the last of the great cabaret performers, he was a walking, talking compendium of the American Songbook. The Cafe Carlyle Presents Bobby Short: You're The Top showcases the classic love songs of Cole Porter and the two artists are a perfect pairing of sophistication and elegance.
With his impeccable enunciation and elegant stage presence, Short was the perfect interpreter of Porter's work. He sang with a world-weary knowing, mirroring the insouciance that covered the occasional melancholy of Porter's lyrics.
The 15 tracks are arranged with a big band behind Short's trio, adding a sheen to hits like "I've Got You Under My Skin," "What Is This Thing Called Love" and one of Short's standards, "You're The Top."
The opening track, "C'est Magnifique," starts with a Gil Evans-style horn arrangement, removing any Broadway bombast and letting the joy of the lyric shine. "You Do Something To Me" gets the welcome addition of the verse before the famous chorus.
Lesser-know gems are here as well, like "I Love You Samantha," which Bing Crosby sang in the 1956 movie "High Society." A pared down 2-step, it moves into a swinging horn arrangement before returning to Short's vocals. When he sings, "Remember, Samantha," Porter modulates from major to minor on the beloved's name, adding to the hopeful poignancy of the last line, "I'm a one-gal guy." "You're Sensational" is set with only guitarist Howard Alden's comping the vocal and offering a beautiful solo between verses.