NO HARM DONE, COQUETTE
THE SONGS OF BABBIE GREEN AND JOHNNY GREEN
With Babbie Green, John Boswell
and Julie Esposito
The Great American Songbook is not just history, it is history still in the making. Johnny Green wrote the music for such standards as BODY AND SOUL, I COVER THE WATERFRONT, OUT OF NOWHERE...lasting treasures...ask any jazz cat worldwide!...in addition to winning 5 Academy Awards (nominated 14 times) for his brilliant handling of other peoples’ music. His award-winning daughter, Babbie Green, continues in the family business. She is one of the most sung songwriters in the world of cabaret. John Boswell, also composer/singer/pianist extraordinaire, with 7 of his own cds distributed worldwide, has worked with Green fille for 7 years, the cd of this show being their third joint venture on disc. Even before being released, it has received airplay, back to back with Frank Sinatra’s recordings of the same songs. Julie Esposito is another “daughter of...”. Her father was the Grammy nominated late jazz pianist/musical director Gene Esposito. Her UNSUNG HOLLYWOOD cd is a jewel box of songs from the silver screen, getting great reviews and airplay all over the country. This show of this cd, about to play in L.A. (March) and NYC (May), is too good...and too much fun...to miss!
REVIEWS AND COMMENTS:
...this new CD comes along at a time when great CDs are in short supply...It is really wonderful...What a treasure trove...I just love it.
...a joy to listen to...it's wonderful work.
ALAN AND MARILYN BERGMAN
Oh my God, this is a beautiful recording. And what a marvelous combination ... a blend of Babbie's songs with the classic songs of her father, Johnny Green. This is a brilliant idea. And it works! There's a delightful surprise right away with a lovely instrumental Overture, melding her song "No Harm Done" with her father's "Coquette." This musical treasure alternates with Babbie's and Johnny's songs both individually and together ... including a favorite of mine "Twixt Heaven and Hell"/"Hello, My Lover, Goodbye" ... a delicious delicacy only Babbie Green could create. Babbie obviously relishes performing these songs ... and with the wonderful talents of John Boswell and Julie Esposito, too, you've got a CD you'll enjoy hearing again and again. Another one of my favorites on the CD is Babbie's "Til the Next Good Thing." It makes me look forward to her next release ... and that will be a very good thing indeed.
In its honoring and interpreting the work of her dad so very successfully, this album is both rewarding and warming, not to mention musically historic. For lovers of musicals, the name Johnny Green is iconic work as musical director for classic films such as An American in Paris toWest Side Story. He also wrote some original scores like the Oscar-nominated Raintree County. Babbie Green is joined by singer Julie Esposito and singer-pianist and frequent collaborator John Boswell for a new CD. It makes strong cases for the prodigious songwriting talents of two Greens: both father and daughter. Babbie has a field day of a Father’s Day revisiting 11 of his melodies (with various lyricists) sitting side by side with her own impressive lyrics and music - and singing - which all show vulnerability and versatility. The oldies hold up well, from the buried treasures to Mr. Green’s most famous melody (“Body and Soul” first heard on Broadway in a 1930 revue Three’s a Crowd and revived in two other shows in the 1980s, thus still being heard on Broadway when he passed away, twenty years ago next month.).
In her interesting liner notes, Babbie talks about being immersed in her father’s music, from playing piano duets with him to her first memory of seeing him conduct: as a tot, she saw him lead the orchestra for Rodgers & Hart’s By Jupiter, before he moved on to symphony work. It’s his own songwriting that is on display here, and his proud daughter offers dignified and moving solo vocal versions of his standards “I Cover the Waterfront” and “Body and Soul”. These two come with some tradition of gravitas and high drama, but Babbie manages to get right to the core of each, avoiding any melodramatics or burial in layers of self-pity. The rare spare approach on these is refreshing and makes them more immediate and real.
But there is plenty more to savor, including some sweetness and/or lighter fare plucked from Johnny Green’s repertoire. All three singers are perky and peppy having a barrel and a half of fun with the oldies “Coquette” and “The Steam Is on the Beam”, plus two songs from the 1944 Broadway show Beat the Band: “You Wanna Keep Your Baby Lookin’ RIght”, the hilarious character piece from an old movie with a Leo Robin lyric about a material girl of yore cooing and conniving for furs and such from her rich sweetheart, and “The Turntable Song” (also worth a spin on Julie Esposito’s solo album
of not-overdone movie songs Unsung Hollywood).
And sometimes it’s time for the bittersweet: A musical production called Here Goes the Bride said hello and goodbye to Broadway audiences in the first week of November 1931 but from it survives a number called “Hello My Lover Goodbye”. In one of the CD’s most moving tracks, Babbie blends her father’s work with one of her own (“Twixt Heaven and Hell”) as the two pieces about regretful but resigned romantic parting dovetail and inform each other. John Boswell sings John Green’s melody (with an Edward Hayman lyric) while Babbie sings her own, and they weave in and out of each other. The same game plan works well for a blend of another John Green standard, “Out of Nowhere”, with Babbie’s own excellent and tender “I Knew I’d Know”.
Babbie’s original songs here, as in previous CD outings, glow for their literate lyrics and ingratiating melodies, and are especially open-hearted and never hesitant to reveal a deeply felt experience or yearning, even if she get s bit flowery-poetic with the images (“My heart’s a naked castle upon a haunted hill ... When my angels cry in a tear-stained sky”). Unlike the common love panic that makes some of us “so stunned by fear that we run from what might be most dear”, her confessional catharses reveal a person who looks for “a spirit carrying the key to secrets locked inside my mind, bursting to be free” or “the rhythm of the other half of my heart”.
Her honeyed and distinctive gauzy voice (seeming stronger on this CD) is a nice contrast to Julie’s earthier and breezier sounds and John’s breathy laidback persona as one of today’s no-need-for-macho new-age sensitive guys guise. All’s well as Boswell and Babbie share duties on keyboards and arragements, plus a songwriting collaboration for a change-of-pace number with some welcome humor, with cute lyrics (hers) and title, “Bossy Nova”. The wistful “No Harm Done” is one of her best, one of those perfectly constructed songs, simpler and quite down-to-earth in its post-break-up “c’est la vie” reality check, with perspective silver lining very much intact, despite a well-used handkerchief to catch some tears.
...catch this terrific trio and...this album...a joy and a gem of memorable music. Like father, like daughter. And I like them both - very much.
TALKIN' BROADWAY - SOUND ADVICE - ROB LESTER
NOTES WRITTEN BY NANCY SINATRA FOR THIS CD:
"Sitting by the piano while Babbie's Dad played for us is
one of my most treasured memories of childhood. It was
clear she would follow the paths of her mother and father
because she was already a little ham, but who'da thunk
that she would grow into the brilliant songwriter, pianist
and singer you hear on this album. Maybe it's in her DNA
or perhaps it's osmosis. Either way, little did I know that
the girl I knew, who sat there quietly listening to Johnny
play, would display the touch and sensibilities of her father,
in his music and in hers. She carries his blood in her veins
and his music in her soul, inseparably melded with her own.
It's difficult to know where his music ends and hers begins.
Brava, Babbie! May God bless the daughters of famous fathers."
NOTES WRITTEN BY MARY RODGERS FOR THIS CD:
"The daughter of Richard Rodgers thinks the daughter of
John Green is wildly talented. Her father would be proud.
My father is proud of her, too."