Friday, March 16, 2012

Not always as easy as it sounds

Extracted from Wall Street Journal jazz critic Will Friedwald's liner notes for the CD, The Undiscovered Jane Harvey, part of the jazz singer's new retrospective 5-CD set. Buy at amazon.

"The session by Jane, and Les Paul comes from a period when both principals were newly divorced. Around 1960, Jane, who had recently separated from [record producer Bob] Thiele was awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night from a deejay named Bob Landers. He had Les Paul with him in the studio, and the guitar legend was looking for a female vocalist to replace Mary Ford. 'He asked me to come over immediately,' says Jane. 'I got dressed, and actually left my son (Bob Thiele, Jr.) alone. Just praying that he wouldn't wake up while I was gone.' Once there, she proceeded to cut nine songs, with the pre-recorded tracks (guitar, keyboards---mostly celeste and bass, all overdubs by Les Paul).

'I had no idea what they wanted me to sing, or what tune was coming up next. Les just called out all these standards, one after another' she recalls. 'I never even knew they were going to want me to do a second, third, or fourth chorus, or when I was supposed to "finish a take" chorus after chorus.' She remembers that there was only one song that Les wanted to sing a second time, 'You Made Me Love You." She sings it as she normally would, slow and romantically, the first time round, and then 'Les told me to make it sound as sexy and breathy as as possible. She sounds rather like Marilyn Monroe wishing JFK a happy birthday here. When it was done [in the wee small  hours of the morning], she had passed the audition. 'Les wanted me to come on the road with him, but I couldn't leave Bob Jr, so I turned him down."

What Jane had just achieved was the singer's equivalent of pitching a no hitter, with a gun pointed at her head. . .and without a net (to mix several metaphors). The engineer yells 'roll 'em,' she hadn't even warmed up or rehearsed, it's midnight, she's working without lyric sheets, had probably never even sung most of the songs before (there are 9 tunes, 10 tracks in the session). What a pro! And. . .half her powers of concentration are probably still back at her flat where she has just, prrrrractically committed something resembling temporary child abandonment. (Hey! A gal---and her son's--- gotta eat.) And yet. . . . Well, you take a listen below and be the judge.  And in their own way, nearly every single track on this 5 CD set (sold separately) contains similarly miraculous moments. (And, oh yes, Bob JR slept through the night, and is still in fine shape these many years later.)

Take a listen:

1 comment:

jeronimo said...

Intruiging disc...

Haven't read the liners yet, but somehow strange that they duplicate two songs on two albums (this one and Traveling Light)

Glad to have them :)