On this, her third album, Amy Cervini pays tribute to one of her childhood idols, Blossom Dearie. Dearie was the original jazz pixie, she was a little lady with a little girls voice. She played piano and sang and was most known as one of the last “supper club” performers. More of an entertainer than an jazz adventurer, she had a small but pure voice and an impeccable swinging sense of rhythm.
Miles Davis and Gil Evans were among her famous fans, and John Lennon, of all people, would become a big fan in the late ‘60s. She once said her key influences included Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and the team of George Burns & Gracie Allen. That speaks volumes about the nature of her music and the importance of humor therein, particularly mischievous, impish humor. Jazz vocal authority Will Friedwald described the storytelling in her singing as being like a striptease, "giving up secrets only slowly and reluctantly." She wasn’t vampish. She never sold sex appeal, but she was hip enough to hang with Miles and Gil. And she brought a certain playfulness to her songs.
Amy Cervini is the perfect choice to reinterpret Dearie’s works. The songs she has selected from Dearie’s catalog include something for the jazz purist, something for the cabaret lover and something for the music lover in general. Cervini is know on her previous two albums for crossing genres, and with Dearie’s music, she does the same. Time Out New York has praised Cervini's work for "tearing down boundaries between old and new jazz styles, rock, pop, country and more – a reminder of Duke Ellington’s old axiom that there’s just two kinds of music, good and bad."
The album opens with "Everything I Got Belongs to You," a Rodgers & Hart number, which is a perfect mix of swing and sly wit. Track 2 is Dearie’s own "I Like You, You're Nice". Other highlights are the Dave Frishberg tongue in cheek, “My Attorney Bernie” co-written with Dearie’ pal, Bob Dorough. The title track is drawn from the song Dearie wrote for John Lennon, “Hey John” says it well, “ you’re digging me digging you” . Also, don’t pass over “Once Upon A Summertime”, the title track of of Dearie’ 1959 album that inspired her pals, Gil Evans and Miles Davis to cut their own versions a couple years later. It’s a beautiful tune and make’s you realize that Dearie wasn’t just a novelty voice on the jazz scene.
But, speaking of double entendre, have a little fun on “I’m Shadowing You” (written by Dearie and Johnny Mercer) which has a great guitar part by Jessie Lewis followed by a super clarinet by Anat Cohen, who is becoming a regular on these pages (see the review of 3 Cohen's from Nov.). “A Doodlin’ Song” is another Bob Dorough tune that’s fun, and I love Cervini’s take on “Tea For Two” cut at half speed, it sounds fresh and morphs into a different animal than we are used to.
Amy Cervini is from Canada and is yet another product of the jazz Mecca, The New England Conservatory. Cervini has recorded two previous solo albums – Lovefool (2009, Orange Grove) and Famous Blue (2007, Orange Grove) – which saw her range interpretively from Cole Porter, Billie Holiday and Leonard Cohen to the Cardigans, Feist and Depeche Mode. Live, she has performed in clubs and concert halls from Toronto to Tel Aviv and in prime New York venues. You’ll love this January 2012 release.
Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved