Sunday, January 10, 2016

Laura Perlman: “Precious Moments” (2016) CD Review

Life certainly takes us on some unexpected journeys. Laura Perlman had to suffer through some giant health scares before really focusing on her lifelong passion for jazz. The results of that focus are the tracks on Precious Moments, a wonderful CD on which Laura sings some beloved standards. Joining Laura Perlman on this release are some incredibly accomplished jazz musicians, including Bill Cunliffe on piano, Mark Sherman on vibraphone (Sherman also produced the album and did most of the arrangements), Chris Colangelo on bass and Joe La Barbera on drums. There are liner notes by both Laura Perlman and Mark Sherman, in which they talk about Laura’s struggles with cancer. The story of this CD can certainly inspire us, or at least remind us of the brief and fragile state of life, and so encourage us to follow our dreams while we can. But of course what is also important here is the music itself, and you can certainly hear Laura’s passion for these songs in her vocal delivery.

Laura Perlman opens the album with a good rendition of “I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” a song written by Frank Loesser, featured in the musical Guys And Dolls. Laura’s rendition is actually fun, with a bit more spark than many versions I’ve heard. There is a joy in her delivery. “I’ve never been in love before/I thought my heart was safe/I thought I knew the score/But this is wine that’s all too strange and strong/I’m full of foolish song/And out my song must pour.” Those last two lines in particular make this song the perfect choice to begin this CD.

Laura follows that with “I’ve Grown Accustomed To His Face,” written by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner (as “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”) for the musical My Fair Lady. This version is faster and more energetic than usual. There is a nice instrumental section, with lots of good stuff by Mark Sherman on vibraphone and by Bill Cunliffe on piano, ending with a couple of brief but very cool drum solos before Laura Perlman comes back in on vocals. Interestingly, this track also ends with drums. Also from My Fair Lady, Laura tackles “On The Street Where You Live,” with an arrangement by Bill Cunliffe. This rendition has a bright feel.

“But Beautiful” is the first track I heard from this CD, and is the one that got me interested in this artist. It is mellow and intimate, at first just vocals and piano, but then with some gentle work on drums and bass. Laura’s vocals are beautiful and tender. This is a wonderful track, and it is the piano that leads the instrumental section here. “But Beautiful” was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke.

“My Favorite Things” is not one of my favorite songs (I’m just not that crazy about the lyrics), but I like what Laura Perlman does with it, especially that short sort of scat section. And the instrumental section is wonderful, including some great work by Joe La Barbera on drums.

One of the CD’s highlights for me is “You Go To My Head.” I love how Laura Perlman takes her vocals from intimate, sexy, vulnerable places to these great heights of confidence and joy. This track also features a delicious lead on bass by Chris Colangelo. “You Go To My Head” was written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie. The album concludes with “Every Time We Say Goodbye” (often written as “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”), a song by Cole Porter. There is a joy heard here in her vocal approach, even in having to say goodbye.

CD Track List
  1. I’ve Never Been In Love Before
  2. I’ve Grown Accustomed To His Face
  3. But Beautiful
  4. My Favorite Things
  5. I’m Old Fashioned
  6. You Go To My Head
  7. My Foolish Heart
  8. On The Street Where You Live
  9. My One And Only Love
  10. Every Time We Say Goodbye
Precious Moments is scheduled to be released on January 15, 2016 on Miles High Records.

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