Even if they don’t have trained voices, the instrumental soloists I know tend to be really convincing singers, often with a loose, sleeves-rolled up approach to the song, which, by its casualness, conceals a real understanding of melody, rhythm, and how to “sell a song.” (And sometimes the most under-documented singers are the most affecting: Basie, muttering his way through HARVARD BLUES, Hawkins emoting on LOVE CRIES, Carter wooing us with SYNTHETIC LOVE.)
Musicians know that bursting into song delights an audience (if it’s not offered on every performance) and it rests tired lips and hands. Here are three wonderful examples from a Sunday afternoon session by Terry Waldo, Jon-Erik Kellso, Jim Fryer, Evan Arntzen, Brian Nalepka, John Gill, and Jay Lepley — January 29, 2017). I will point out that everyone in this band has been known to warble a chorus, but today I am concentrating on Messrs. Fryer, Arntzen, and Nalepka — all of whom have sung in performance and the recording studio.
And since so much of American pop music of the last century and more takes romance as its subject, here are three very different love songs: the first a chronicle of deprivation (“I’d love to join the fun but they bar me.”) the second a narrative of how serendipity made for great love (“I kept buying china / Until the crowd got wise.”) and the last a happy description of mutual adoration (“My baby don’t care who knows it.”)
Jim Fryer chronicles romantic woes, Lombardo / Louis style on SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE:
Evan Arntzen reminds us of Bing, 1931, incidentally, with I FOUND A MILLION DOLLAR BABY (IN A FIVE-AND-TEN CENT STORE):
and Brian Nalepka tells the truth (ask Mary Shaughnessy), MY BABY JUST CARES FOR ME:
These frolics happen most Sunday afternoons at Fat Cat, 75 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, New York City (take the #1 train to Christopher Street / Sheridan Square).
May your happiness increase!