Chapter 6 Three Singers

Chapter 6

Three Singers

There is a well-known recording of Charlie Ventura’s small band with Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, caught in a live performance just days before the band broke up.  One can hear the duo’s intricate octave bop lines in vocalese, as well as conventional song interpretations from Jackie on several selections.  Recently this record has been on the GNP label, Charlie Ventura and his band IN CONCERT featuring Jackie Cain and Roy Kral.

Two of the Jackie and Roy albums from the late ‘50s, Bits and Pieces and The Glory of Love are currently available on a single CD Jasmine Records.  The former features a big band with arrangements by great arrangers Bill Holman, Quincy Jones, Ralph Burns and Ernie Wilkins, with soloists including Phil Woods, Art Farmer and Clark Terry.  The latter is a small group affair.  The vocalists sparkle throughout both albums on a variety of songs by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin and frequent Jackie and Roy collaborators Tommy Wolf and Fran Landesman.  Glory also contains Jackie’s celebrated rendition of Alec Wilder’s “The Winter of My Discontent.”  Some of this same material appears on a good collection, Jackie & Roy:  The ABC-Paramount Years (Koch International).

When Marc Myers asked Jackie for “the recording of yours that still gives you the biggest thrill,” she replied that it was “[p]robably Time and Love for CTI (Records, 1972), with the huge orchestra arranged by Don Sebesky.”  That recording, which includes such diverse material as “A Simple Song” from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, “Day by Day” from the musical Godspell, an arrangement of Brazilian classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras #5, and the classic standard “Lazy Afternoon,” would not be considered by many as a jazz album.  Sebesky earns his arranger’s credits many times over, quoting classics from Bach to Debussy, using odd meters (which may have been Kral’s idea), integrating jazz stars Paul Desmond and Hubert Laws, milking the richness of the orchestra and overdubbing by Jackie and Roy.  In contrast, the album that Jackie and Roy recorded the next year for CTI, A Wilder Alias (1973, re-released 2011), is an exciting small group album (with Hubert Laws, Joe Farrell, Steve Gadd and Harvie Swartz joining Kral in the band), all of the tunes Kral originals (with some collaboration).  The vocals are mostly vocalese on complex lines in the style of the time; in the 2010s, they still sound progressive and even edgy at times.


Much of Al Jarreau’s recorded output is described and discussed in the main body of the text, with numerous tracks singled out.  Here are the albums mentioned there:  The early recordings from Iowa:  Al Jarreau (Master Classics); the first two major label records on Reprise:  We Got By (1975), Glow (1976); the Warner Brothers albums:  Look to the Rainbow (1977), All Fly Home (1978), This Time (1980),  Breaking Away (1981), Jarreau (1983); later albums:  Heart’s Horizon (1988, Reprise), Heaven and Earth (1992, Warner Brothers), Tenderness (1994, Reprise), Tomorrow Today (2000, GRP), Accentuate the Positive (2004, Verve), Givin’ It Up (2006, Concord), Live (with the Metropole Orkest, 2012, Concord), My Old Friend (2014, Concord).


When I asked Tierney Sutton in 2011 about her records – which were her favorites, most meaningful to her, what she wanted others to hear – she made a number of observations.  “Well you know the answer that we always give as a band to that question is the one I’m sure you know, which is like . . . a record is like a kid.  So you have a kid, and which is your favorite?  I mean that one has its little idiosyncrasies, that one has its, you know, that one got awards, that one didn’t, that one . . . And they’re snapshots.  To be honest, I don’t listen to them after we (make) them, hardly ever.  If I were going to give somebody a record . . . you know with a gun to my head, I would probably give them I’m With the Band (Telarc, 2005) simply because it’s a live record, and it’s just a live experience with the band.  But, you know, there’s pieces, there’s little bits on every record that are really precious to me. And there’s bits of other records that are more precious to me than anything on that whole record.”  Asked to share some of those precious moments, she said, “Well, on the first record we did for Telarc there’s a Jimmy Rowles tune, ‘The Peacocks.’  And I’m really proud of that, because nobody, very few people have recorded it. And there’s a version of “Spring is Here” on that record that was an arrangement that we borrowed from Kenny Barron, which was from a record that I really, really loved.”  (Both of those are on Unsung Heroes (2000).)  She mentioned how a number of the songs on Something Cool (Telarc, 2002) have become signature tunes for her.  About Dancing in the Dark (Telarc, 2004) “there’s all those great Sinatra ballads that are really close to my heart.  And in terms of story telling, and really getting into, you know, the sound of the band, ‘What’ll I Do?’ (from the same album) is an arrangement that’s very much our sound.  So there’s little bits on each record that to me are kind of the sound of the band.”  The author strongly recommends American Road and After Blue (BFM, 2011 and 2013).