Liner Notes by Scott Yanow,
Author of ten jazz books including The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Record 1917-76, Trumpet Kings and Jazz On Film
While Audrey Silver is just embarking on her career from a recording standpoint, her style is fully formed and she is starting off on top. Her voice is distinctive, she knows how to make every sound and moment of silence count, and her improvising is full of subtle surprises. Although Audrey is clearly well-versed in the work of all the great jazz singers, she sounds like no one else.
Dream Awhile came about almost spontaneously. “I had the great fortune to work with the same group of musicians for quite awhile,” explains the singer. “Over time, as certain songs really began to take shape, we would record them. One day, I realized that I had enough material for a CD.” It is easy to understand why Audrey has used these musicians regularly. Pianist Joe Barbato, bassist Joe Fitzgerald, and drummer Anthony Pinciotti accompany and inspire Audrey with their swinging playing while functioning as a tight and highly supportive trio. Guitarist Chris Bergson is an important asset during his three appearances; two of those songs have the creative contributions of Todd Isler on drums and/or percussion.
While the contributions of the musicians should not be overlooked, the main star is clearly the singer. Audrey used the opportunity to record many of her favorite songs. While the 11 numbers are all well known, none have been overplayed and several have been modernized, especially “Too Marvelous For Words,” the opening chorus of “Falling In Love With Love,” and “Day Dream.” Even the more straightforward interpretations have moments where these versions stand apart from previous ones, often due to Audrey’s phrasing and improvising.
Dream Awhile opens with Irving Berlin’s “The Song Is Ended.” Audrey’s version has some surprising key changes that add to the drama of the performance, and her joyful scatting during the closing section is quite infectious. “In the Wee Small Hours” is given a tender treatment that displays Audrey’s understanding of the words. This rendition of “Falling In Love With Love” was inspired by Sheila Jordan who also performed the waltz in 4/4 time. Audrey makes it her own with an unusual opening chorus. Featuring her voice, Joe Fitzgerald’s bass and some percussive sound effects from Todd Isler, the first chorus sets the stage for a cooking version.
“Too Marvelous For Words”, transformed by Joe Barbato’s deceptively simple arrangement, offers a completely different take on this classic song. Audrey contributes to the inventiveness of this version by creating a new and complementary melody. The swinging treatment of “I Will Wait For You,” which is usually taken as a ballad, was inspired by Freddie Cole’s recording. “So Many Stars” was introduced to Audrey by Sheila Jordan and utilizes Jordan’s arrangement in a memorable rendition of Sergio Mendes’ classic piece. Two happy revivals of vintage tunes by the songwriting team of Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields (“Exactly Like You” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”) sandwich “That’s All,” a song that Audrey originally sang as a request and ended up loving.
Billy Strayhorn’s “Day Dream” is usually taken as a slow ballad, but after Audrey heard Percy Heath play it on the cello as a medium-tempo waltz, she chose to perform it in a similar fashion. Dream Awhile concludes with “I Could Write A Book,” an infectious duet with pianist Barbato on which Audrey’s joyful sound clearly expresses her love for the song.
Audrey Silver studied classical piano and cello starting from an early age, but singing was her main love. After graduating from Brown University, Audrey spent a period working in the music business; first at CBS Records and then as the head of marketing for the Chesky label. In 1998 she received encouragement from pianist John Raney and began taking lessons from Sheila Jordan. “[Sheila and I] would do a lot of trading back and forth which really opened up my ears. She was so generous in so many ways. I also studied with Mark Murphy. Mark made me realize the importance of each and every word in a song. Once I absorbed that lesson, my whole style changed.”
Since then, Audrey Silver has worked regularly in the New York area including appearances at 55 Bar, Sweet Rhythm, The Cutting Room, Cleopatra’s Needle, the Anyway Café and lengthy engagements at the Mansfield Hotel’s M Bar, Club Macanudo and Bruno Jamais Restaurant and Club. With the release of Dream Awhile, her reputation will certainly spread far beyond New York City and she will receive some of the recognition that she deserves as an important new jazz singer. Dream Awhile is a very impressive effort.