her contemporaries, Karrin Allyson, Claudia Acuña, Gigi MacKenzie and Gretchen
Parlato, jazz vocalist and pianist
“Once in a while you hear a young singer, and you think this must be an old soul, but on the whole, I think you have to have some experience and some life, to dig in and sing some of these juicy songs. It does make it easier to live them, and I do like to approach them from a theatrical place. I used to work with an acting teacher, and (we) used to ask, what is the atmosphere here, and what is the emotion, it’s not just words and music. If you want to transport your audience, you need to take them on that little trip with you,” says Bennett.
“I could beat anyone in
1930’s and ‘40’s music trivia, because I grew up on that music; big bands, Ella
Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong. I grew up on jazz, I know the Great American
Songbook, and I am totally submerged in it. In high school, I got into musicals,
but I didn’t have the big voice. I am dramatic by nature, and I love songs that
have a story to them,” she says, and adds that her mother, who was a music
teacher, also helped cultivate her interest in music.
Another factor which contributes to Bennett’s ability to infuse her songs with authenticity is her love of culture and language, and her understanding of the history of the songs, as well as those who first penned them or performed them.
“I love the French language. My
husband was born in
Bennett finds it difficult to tear herself away from the subject of Charles Trenet’s music, and she is effusive about his writing, as well as his performance skills which she has witnessed in vintage clips. She then breaks into singing, “La Mer,” in French of course.
Eventually our conversation turns to a song written by
yet another French composer, the beautiful, “I Will Wait For You.” “Michel
Legrand has always been one of my favorite writers, and that song has a lot of
meaning for me. It is the juiciest song, about always loving someone, even if
they are gone, or if you have lost them, or it will take forever. The melodies
of Legrand are always breathtaking, and it has always been one of my favorites.
I thought that it would fit with something that a woman would say. I think that
it is a girl song.”
Recalling that, “I Will Wait For You,” was done in a single take, Bennett says, “It is my favorite cut on the album. Bill (Augustine) came up with this taunting little bass line that sets it up (she imitates the bass). When I hear Tom’s arrangement, it just makes me cry. I really do relate to that song, as it evokes memories of broken hearts, longing, and all those things that women wallow in.”
“I Will Wait For You,” also holds a special place in Bennett’s heart, for another reason, “It was always the favorite song of a wonderful director, named Henry Koster who did The Robe (Richard Burton, Jean Simmons) and Harvey (starring James Stewart and Josephine Hull). I remember I sung it a cappella for him on his deathbed, and he just loved it. (She quotes the lyrics) “If it takes forever, I will wait for you / For a thousand summers I will wait for you.”
Tom Saviano, who worked as Melissa Manchester’s music director and arranger, as well as played sax on three of her albums, talks about working with Bennett on Girl Talk, her tenth CD, “There were minimal takes involved in the recording of the "Girl Talk" album. This was certainly true of, "I Will Wait For You". “There was extensive pre-production done before we ever set foot in the studio. Templates of each song were created at my studio to test the arrangements, keys, tempos and feel until they met the approval of Chris and me. As a producer, I don't believe in beating a track into the ground in the studio, thus, thorough pre-production and good casting. We cast the album with the finest musicians available, which allowed for less takes, because of their creativity and proficiency. Once the tracking was done properly, we had a nice foundation for our vocalist, Chris, to work her magic. The magic and freshness that Chris brings in addition to being naturally gifted, comes from years of experience and knowledge as a performer, writer and producer. As an artist, she really knows how to prepare herself before the recording session. She doesn't waste time in the studio, and we don't have to record it over and over again. This allows for a more spontaneous and fresher sounding recording.”
Bennett talks about her connection to Tom Saviano, “We worked together on a writing project in the eighties, and I thought that he was just incredible. On the first couple of albums on which I worked back in the disco days, he arranged a couple of tunes for me. I think that he is a stunning arranger. We stayed friends, but we really hadn’t done a project together for a while. I wanted some really juicy arrangements, and he knows me so well, my strengths and my weaknesses, so he seemed like the perfect fit. I have a brilliant arranger and a brilliant horn player (Saviano). He is my one token male,” adding, “For the song, “The Man With A Horn,” I had to have a real man, with a horn. He does a really, juicy alto sax on that.”
Saviano is indeed the lone male
musician on an album that features excellent performances by some of the best
female jazz players, artists such as, Sarah Underwood, who played the alto and
tenor saxophones, as well as the flute and clarinet, upright bass player Kristin
Korb, drummer extraordinaire Suzanne Morissette, legendary percussionist Bobbye
Hall (Tracy Chapman, Carole King, Jefferson Starship, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder),
and violinist Cara C. (Kenny Loggins, Burt Bacharach, N-Synch, Whitney Houston).
Interview by Joe Montague, all rights reserved,
protected by copyright © 2009
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Interview by Joe Montague, all rights reserved, protected by copyright © 2009 Return to Our Front Page