The star couldn’t stand hearing young singers mangle the Great American Songbook
Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and ’60s got to constantly hear — on radio, TV and vinyl — the Great American Songbook sung by the likes of Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Sarah Vaughn. … The list goes on. These were singers who belonged to our parents more than to us. Still, they set a high bar for crooners, even if we didn’t fully appreciate it when we were kids. Besides having intonation, perfect pitch and beautiful voices, these artists respected a song, its melody and lyrics. They made singing sound easy, which it isn’t. My favorite singer as of this week is Harry Connick Jr., but not for his vocal talent. As a guest mentor on Tuesday’s American Idol, he did something I’d never seen done on that show — and it was long overdue. He made it clear why, despite the impressive vocal abilities of the four finalists — Candice Glover, Angie Miller, Amber Holcomb and Kree Harrison — they probably will never be truly great singers in the mode of those who came before, like Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Vic Damone and Billy Eckstein. Again, the list goes on. Idol‘s theme on Wednesday was “Then and Now.” Each contestant was asked in the first hour of the show to perform a current hit song. They chose newly released tunes by Pink, Bruno Mars, Rihanna and Carrie Underwood, who won American Idol in 2005. In the second half, they were asked to sing a classic from the Great American Songbook. During the mentoring sessions, Connick would listen to the singers perform the songs they had chosen and advise them how to do it better. He was a kindly coach throughout the “Now” portion of the show, teasing, praising and hugging the contestants. But when it came to the “Then” segment, the joking stopped. His demeanor changed. Songs of the past are an essential part of Connick’s repertoire. He loves, respects and understands their exquisite craftsmanship. He knows how to make them sound “now” without losing what they were “then.” As Amber started to sing Rogers & Hart’s “My Funny Valentine,” Connick stopped her. He asked her what the song is about. “What does it mean, ‘Your looks are laughable?’” he asked her, or “‘Is your figure less than Greek?’” Amber looked blank — she had no idea. She struggled for words. He told her to go do some research on the lyricist, Lorenz Hart, a physically diminutive, closeted homosexual who died of alcoholism at age 48. Before singing the song, Connick sternly told Amber, you need to understand what Hart was writing about. Kree also got stopped shortly after she launched into Harold Arlen’s “Stormy Weather.” She was singing in a loose, bluesy manner, like she said she’d heard Etta James do the song. But for Kree to do those fancy runs, Connick said, were diluting the meaning of the lyrics. The woman in this song, he explained, is sad and depressed; she’s lost her man. “You don’t sound depressed,” Connick observed. He wanted Kree to do it more like Lena Horne, who introduced the song in 1940. No frills needed. Not one of the contestants took Connick’s “Then” advice when they got on stage. Substance was thrown out the window for pyrotechnic vocal tricks. Angie sang Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me,” an ode to vulnerability, in full-power voice. She hardly came off as “a little lamb who’s lost in the wood,” as the lyric says. More like a John Deere tree cutter. The judges loved Candice’s version of Billy Holiday’s “You’ve Changed,” giving her a standing O. Not Connick, whose tip to “Keep it simple” went completely over her head. “One of the worst things that can happen in a relationship is when the other person starts to drift away from you,” Connick told Candice. She needed to express that feeling. Her blaring version had no poignancy. Connick squirmed in his front-row seat during the “Then” performances. I haven’t seen such facial contortions since Linda Blair got anointed with holy water in The Exorcist. His breaking point came when Randy Jackson implied that Connick’s advice had hindered Kree’s vacuous rendition of “Stormy Weather,“ which none of the judges liked. He thought she should have sung it more like Etta James, as she had wanted to do. As it turned out, her rendition was neither Etta nor Lena, nor even Kree. It lacked any personality or feeling. You could see Connick about to pop his cork. That’s when Keith Urban went into the audience, took Connick by the hand and brought him to the judge’s table. Taking a seat, Connick proceeded to school a very defensive Jackson in the art of singing standards. The point Connick tried to make, which Jackson didn’t want to hear, was that the show’s contestants didn’t know these classic songs well enough to take liberties with their melodies and lyrics. In doing so, they were murdering the music. To me this made an even bigger point. Since its debut in 2002, Idol has always put value on over-the-top vocal performances. Subtlety and intimacy gets you the boot. If minimalists likePeggy Lee or Billy Holiday were to compete on Idol today the judges would eat them alive. I was friends with Hal Schaefer, a famous vocal coach who died last October. He’s credited withteaching Marilyn Monroe to sing. I once asked him what he thought of Barbra Streisand. “When she was a teenager she came to my apartment on Riverside Drive to see if I would give her vocal lessons,” said Schaefer, who was then living in New York. “I was blown away not just by her voice, but her knowledge. She knew who every composer and lyricist was. She knew the entire American songbook. I told her after she sang for me that I would not work with her. She didn’t need me. But I told her she had to promise me never to take vocal lessons from anyone, because what she did was completely right. Once in a while that kind of talent comes along.” On a recent NPR interview Streisand talked about how, when interpreting a song, she never violates its melody or lyrics, even when putting her own distinct spin on it. That’s why she’s so great. And that’s why Connick got so frustrated with the Idol contestants. He listened to them, but they wouldn’t listen to him.
2013 will see the release of the OBSESSION album an exciting collaboration with jazz pianist Fabio Gianni as well as the first “THE EGH PROJECT” deep house/lounge album.
So… there is a lot to look forward to!
Eric van Aro with Ewa Bel, Sebastiano & Cristina Mambretti
“IS IT LOVE THAT WE’RE MISSING”
Taken from the DESERT MOTEL CD (c)(p) 2008 ERAKI Entertainment
OUT ON 25.01.2013 Napster pres. Lounge & Jazz, Vol. 1 Includes Beats4Life Artist’s Marco Soundee feat. Eric van Aro -” Jazz” (Gottafunk Down Tempo Mix) Golden Diamond Records
OUT ON 14.12.2012 Luxury Lounge Cafe, Vol. 6 Includes Love2Lounge Artist Eric van Aro – The Painting Of My Heart (Marco Finotello Mix) Audio Lotion Recordings www.love2lounge.com
After two great month in the US making lots of music and new friends (also a new tattoo)….. I’m back in good ol’ Europe
WOW…. although we have not made it to the Swiss finale for the Eurovision song contest….. Blick (as already mentioned, Switzerlands most read newspaper) was kind enough to write about us and the song we submitted. Particularly interesting is the fact that they changed the song title to “Mödling – Austria” instead of “E2E”…. as well as reprinting a false statement! Sooooo cool!!!.
The joint was cooking today with Allen Goodman (dr), Don Shelton (vox, sax, and more) Larry Holloway (bs) and Terry Trotter (p) and guest Lolly Allen on vibraphone…..it was a blast to get to sing with them!!!
Today was a special day. I got to sing with some legendary giants of the industry, Allen Goodman (drums), Don Shelton….yes THE Don Shelton of the HiLo’s and Singers Unlimited (clarinet), Larry Holloway (bass) and Jeff Colella (piano).…. all this while being photographed by one of the greatest singers of all times…. Mr. Jack Jones! And all thanks to Bobbi and Allen Goodman, two jewels and extraordinary friends!!!
More to come….next Sunday (Nov. 4th) at Vicky’s of Santa Fe in Indian Wells. See you there?
after you registered at SF or with fb you can vote here: http://www.eurovisionplattform.sf.tv/videos/e2e
Eurovision Song Contest
THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CONSTANT SUPPORT!
Marco, Eric and Sebastiano
CHECK IT OUT ON THE EGH PROJECT WEBSITE:
or on the Swiss TV portal:
September 1, 2012 7:20 am
by Nick DeRiso
The tune opens with an absorbing piano signature, courtesy of Fabio Gianni, before Van Aro enters to offer a confidential, quietly conveyed vocal: This is a song about empowerment, about believing – above all else – in yourself, and as with many such sentiments it builds from something barely said to something boasted about with sweeping gestures.
By its midpoint, “I’m Not Anyone” – set for release on September 14, 2012, via Eraki – has become a tandem statement of purpose, as Van Aro sings with a robust pride while Gianni begins to approach the piano with a brusque aggression. But just then, as the song hits an emotional apex – and at precisely the moment that earlier strings-laden versions by the likes of Davis and Shirley Bassey began to swoon – Van Aro instead dials everything down with pinpoint accuracy.
He boasts: “I’ll say it loud, I am proud!,” but then seems to completely let go, as if he’s finally gotten something enormous off his chest. “I am free,” Van Aro sings, softly again, “I am free.” Gianni mirrors that newfound sense of release, playing a ruminative, yet deeply optimistic figure on the piano as the track begins to fade.
Still a powerful anthem to self-determination, “I’m Not Anyone” – as the song is torn down to its piano-and-singer foundations – takes on deeper new shades of meaning. You hear things you never heard in an age-old composition, and that’s the mark of a great cover.
|A VOICE, A SOUL n°215 di Sabato 18 Agosto
Posted on Thursday, 16 August ore 10:51:35
Topic: A Voice A Soul
La puntata n° 215 di “A VOICE,A SOUL”, in onda SABATO 18 AGOSTO alle 20,30 su PUNTORADIO, anche in diretta web su http://www.puntoradio.fm si aprirà con la giovane cantante israeliana DIDA PELLED (nella foto in alto a sinistra) che dal CD “Plays and Sings”, pubblicato dalla “Red Records”, in compagnia di Roy Hargrove, tp, Tal Ronen, b e Gregory Hutchinson, d, ci farà ascoltare “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (Frankie Valli). Proseguiremo con la bella voce di TREASA LEVASSEUR
(nella 1a foto centrale a sinistra) che ci farà ascoltare “God’s Song”, tratta dal CD “Broad”. Eccoci poi al valido cantante svizzero ERIC VAN ARO (nella 2a foto centrale a sinistra) che insieme a Fabio Gianni ci proporrà un bell’arrangiamento di “I’m Not Anyone – a Tribute To Sammy Davis jr.”, singolo pubblicato dalla “Eraki Entertainment”. Continueremo con la voce di CORINA BARTRA che in compagnia di Rori Stuart, g, Kirk Lightsey, p, Santi Debriano, b, Clifford Barbaro, d, e Perico Diaz, caj, ci offrirà una sua interessante composizione originale intitolata “Faraway”, tratta dal suo ultimo CD “Corina Bartra Quartet” (nella 1a foto in basso a sinistra). Sarà poi la volta della brava cantante brasiliana CAROL SABOYA che insieme a Devid Liebman, ss, Antonio Adolfo, p, Claudio Spiewak, g, Jorge Helder, b, e Rafael Barata, d, dal CD “Belezas – The Music of Ivan Lins and Milton Nascimento” (nella 2a foto in basso a sinistra) ci farà ascoltare “Tarde” una composizione di Milton Nascimento. Ed eccoci poi alla brava cantante spagnola CELIA MUR (nella foto in alto a destra) che in quintet, dal CD “Simpatia” ci farà ascoltare “I Have Dreamed”. Passeremo quindi alla voce di una bravissima cantante scomparsa pochi anni fa: LOREZ ALEXANDRIA
(nella 1a foto centrale a destra), della quale, con il Ramsey Lewis Trio, dal CD “Early In the Morning” ci potremo ascoltare “Detour Ahead”. Proseguiremo conLIZ CHILDS (nella 2a foto centrale a destra) che in quartet, ci farà ascoltare “Baby All The Time”, tratta dal CD “Take Flight”. Ci ascolteremo quindi CATHY SEGAL-GARCIA (nella 1a foto in basso a destra) che con Yoonseung Cho al pianoforte ci proporrà “Everyday’s Own Song” tratta dal CD”Bohemian”. Chiuderemo la serata con la brava DIANE HOFFMAN(nella 2a foto in basso a destra) che ci proporrà la bella “Close Enough For Love” tratta dal CD “My Little French Dancer”. Ricordiamo che “A VOICE, A SOUL” si può ascoltare SABATO in diretta web su http://www.puntoradio.fm alle 20,30 e da DOMENICA potrà essere effettuato il “DOWNLOAD” della puntata, gratuitamente, dal sito di “ANIMAJAZZ”. Buon ascolto.“A VOICE, A SOUL”
in collaborazione con l’ACCADEMIA D’ARTE DI PISA, Pisa – http://accademiadartedipisa.jimdo.com.
Eric van Aro makes the music world sit up and take notice. The singer, who has released several successful albums in the past, is paying tribute to the superb entertainer Sammy Davis Jr
Growing up in show business, Eric van Aro had the opportunity to closely observe and know many major artists and one particular singer and performer cast a spell on young Eric — Sammy Davis Jr.
“I’m not anyone” is Eric van Aro’s very special tribute to this unique artist. Accompanied on the piano by the outstanding Fabio Gianni, this particular interpretation turns this Paul Anka penned song into something very special and personal. This is no mere imitation of the original. It is precisely the personal touches in this arrangement that make it what it is: a touching tribute to a great entertainer.
“I’m Not Anyone” is released as a digital track on 14 September 2012. It will once again prove to the world that Eric van Aro is more than at home in the Jazz domain and will confirm that, as everybody who has followed Eric’s career already knows: “He is not anyone!”
its always lots of fun to get up there with these guys!!!
OUT ON 25.05.2012 Deep In Night! A Jazz House Experience Vol.2, Includes Beats4Life Artist Marco Soundee feat.Eric van Aro “Jazz”, DJ Vas Undeground Remix
A jewel of a song written by Hoagy Carmichael, Orchestrated by Marty Paich, with Mike Mainieri on Piano and Warren Bernhardt on synthesizer, taken from one of my all time favorite albums “TORCH” by Carly Simon. This version has been giving me goosebumps for 30 years now!!!