Frank Rendo: lead vocals (all), backing & harmony vocals (3,8,9); French horn, trumpet, vox (5); harp (8); vocal arrangement; bass (9)
Palma Pascale (featured player): arrangement augmentation; strings, bass, Hammond organ, flute, clarinet, electric guitar, harpsichord (1); arrangement augmentation; strings, bass, orchestra bells, electric guitar (2); arrangement augmentation; keyboards, strings, vox, bells, belltree, backing vocals (3); arrangement; acoustic piano, acoustic guitar, bass, strings, tambourine (4); arrangement; piano, oboe, flute, harp, strings, string bass (5); arrangement augmentation; strings, bass, voxes, orchestra bells (6); strings (7); arrangement; piano, English horn, bass, guitar, strings, backing vocals (8); arrangement; acoustic piano, guitar, bass, strings, percussion (10); arrangement augmentation; oboe, flute, strings, bass (12)
Fred Guarino: percussion (1,4,5,8,9,10,12); electric guitar (4)
Joe Cruz: Fender Rhodes (7, 12); original arrangement (12)
Peter Eldridge: arrangement, acoustic piano (11)
Spyros Poulos: arrangement, keyboards & programming (9)
Daniel Anderson: original arrangement, piano (1)
Chris O’Brien: original arrangement, piano, keyboards (3)
Chris Falson: guitar (3)
Al Buonnono: bass (3)
Alan Smallwood: keyboards (3)
Denny Sant: soprano sax (3)
Anthony Cerebino: percussion (3)
Peter Prianti: drums (3)
Jonathan Rayson: backing & harmony vocals (4)
Dominick Avento III: backing vocals (8)
Reuben Orshan: electric guitar (9)
Mary Aulet: backing & harmony vocals (9)
CD Mastering: Fred Guarino
Photography & Art Design: Dominic Avento III: (thanks for all your timeless hours, Dom!)
Liner notes: Timothy SanPaolo & Frank Rendo (thanks for all the archiving, Tim!)
Frank also thanks his co-producers:
Palma Pascale – always a joy to sing your songs which are so heartfelt and true. And your musicianship and companionship are invaluable to me.
Fred Guarino – thanks for your strong belief in this project and in me. Your commitment, generosity and long hours are unbelievable to me…it’s great to see that people still do that…go the extra mile…or ten!
“…Please deliver me, cause I’m falling…please remember me, hear me calling-
I…I keep lookin’ round and wondering why….sometimes You seem so hard to find-
And I fall behind….I keep fallin’ behind…”
Frank Rendo decidedly “delivers” in this, his 5th arresting compilation. There is a mixture of songs here; each an element of the CD that serves to create the “whole.” A myriad of styles and genres, each expertly expressed by Frank. Though some of these cuts were initially recorded at various other studios at different times along the way, the final touches for this CD were completed at Tiki Recording Studios in Glen Cove, Long Island. Frank was surrounded by a group of extremely talented individuals as he added to, or freshly recorded these selections.
Musical direction for DELIVER ME was [the most part] in the capable hands of Frank Rendo and composer, arranger, orchestrator, singer – multi-talent Palma Pascale. Palma composed three of the glittering selections on this CD and Frank’s interpretation of them is stunning! Palm and Frank work very well together – this is their 3 project.
Peter Eldridge is another musician who Frank’s worked with on this CD as Peter penned the title song, DELIVER ME in 1997. Peter is a renowned New York based jazz artist and a member of The New York Voices – a jazz vocal group there in the city. Frank’s reading of DELIVER ME is nothing short of spectacular! I know that Frank enjoyed working with Peter, and Peter himself told me “I love the way Frank sings DELIVER ME. It was just a pleasure to record it with him.” Frank discovered DELIVER ME some 11 years ago, having heard Peter for the first time perform it in concert at the old CBGB’s in New York City. Frank had hoped one day for the opportunity to record it with Peter.
Broadway actor and singer Jonathan Rayson joined Frank on the single from the CD, DON’T LAUGH AT ME. There seemed to be an immediate comfort level with these two as they recorded together. Their voices complimented one another and Jonathan has also told me what a real pleasure it was for him to get to record with Frank.
Joining Frank on the song the two of them co-composed is vocalist and long-time friend, Mary Aulet. Mary and Frank were part of the music program at Christian City Church, New York, some 10-years ago when Mary approached Frank with the lyrics and the melody of a song that Frank composed the accompaniment and arrangement for. This duo made quite a nice writing team.
There is no lack of impressive talent on this CD. And I know they each were delighted to be a part of a Frank Rendo recording. Hmmmm……any wonder why?
OPEN HEAVEN – the invocation - A most subdued start to the collection. OPEN HEAVEN is one of the songs Frank is credited as co-composer with Tracey Cruz and Joe Cruz in 1997. Palma builds the song orchestrally upon Daniel Anderson’s original arrangement by adding the gutsy sound first of a church-styled Hammond organ, soon to be joined by some rich sounding strings. I can hear Palma’s “less is more” philosophy come into play – the instruments keep out of the way of each other, not overpowering one another whatsoever; so delectably executed. As you are captivated by the voice of this man singing the turnaround and tags in order to end the song, if you listen closely, you will note that most of the aforementioned instruments make one final statement each to add to the interest of Frank’s incredible vocal – taking each tag a bit softer, and a bit higher, with his final note being a high C, one full octave above middle C; and he hits it squarely, and he holds it for a good long while as Palma ritards to create a beautiful, elegantly executed ending behind this amazing vocal. And….this is only the invocation!
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD - Turn your mind now from an almost classical interpretation of the inspirational OPEN HEAVEN to a lightly jazz-influenced, straight-ahead tune that was made quite popular in the 1960s by the late, great Louis Armstrong. WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD is an audience favorite that Frank has been performing live for many years, now. Palma took the existing arrangement that Frank has used, and embellished it as only she can! The feel of the song is the same triplet tempo as in the classic Unchained Melody. Frank easily captures its laid-back feeling.
Accompanying Frank, then, is a classic rhythm section comprised of electric piano, bass and drums. Frank shared with me that he really likes the strings mixed so that they sound the way an orchestra would naturally be placed on a soundstage. Knowing this, Fred replicated that sound with this song’s mix…the strings are mixed to the left and Palma’s electric guitar can be heard on the right. You’ll hear this many times throughout the CD.
Frank’s interpretation of this classic is impressive! It takes certain know-how to be able to sing jazz – Sinatra knew how – Buble knows how – and Frank definitely knows what he’s doing on this front. His phrasing – his ability to “bend the notes,” if you will, when necessary – and his overall genuine feel for this type of song is evident, throughout. It’s a comfortable song, and that comfortable, relaxed feeling is easily transferred to the listener. Though this one comes in only at 2:17, it’s loaded with character and charm. “Oh…….yeah!”
IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD was written by Maria Abraham, and initially arranged by Chris O’Brien, from whose original blueprint this arrangement was built upon. Frank was a back-up singer on this one when he was initially involved in the 1994 recording of it. The song is an altogether captivating one because, I believe, of its simplistic structure. Yet, there is not one “simple” thing about it you will discover as you listen to it. Starting with an intro of electric piano and guitar, along with Frank’s soft humming, we are tenderly carried into the opening lines as warm, soft strings are added and Frank gently makes this request: “…Touch my life, Lord…” Frank’s voice here is so clear, so calm, so sure, so full and rich. There is yet a completely different feel with this one that Frank expresses seemingly so easily. He may be singing softly, but he is filling each note full to overflowing, and he makes it sound as if it required no effort whatsoever. As he begins verse two, Frank is heard harmonizing with himself and soon Palma is joining him for a chilling three-part enhancement to this pleasing track – yet just around the corner lies another surprise from our talented friend. Frank employs his jazz chops to improvise some tantalizing phrases, which completely changes the complexion of this, until now, rather subdued piece. Hear Frank ‘stretch-out’ a bit with whatever message had entered his heart that he was elaborating on, here. It’s again, a place where Frank’s abilities to adapt to any style and any genre is evident. The song is superbly performed by Frank, and it showcases the versatility of his talent in a most powerful way.
DON’T LAUGH AT ME is a touching song that is the single Frank released from this CD. I heard Frank during an interview with WHLI Radio’s Paul Richards (http://www.whli.com) for his REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS CD where the two of them discussed that this was this song that Paul had once commented on after one of Frank’s live performances. Frank recalls Paul telling him how much he liked this one and Frank let Paul know that at some point he intended to record it. So, having been reminded of that during this 2008 interview with Paul, Frank went into the studio in April of this year to make good on his intentions. Frank is joined by Jonathan Rayson, Palma Pascale and Fred Guarino on this one. Frank is nothing less than brilliant in his vocal and theatrical delivery of this song and story. The story is one that I would guess more people will relate to than not, from some point-in-time in their own lives - a decidedly poignant one – and many of you will, indeed, find a tear in your eyes and a lump in your throat as you listen…not only because of the message of the song, but because of the raw beauty of this recording, itself – and of course, Frank’s interpretation of it. DON’T LAUGH AT ME was written by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin for a national anti-bullying campaign called DON’T LAUGH AT ME (DLAM). The program is intended to nurture children’s emotional, social and ethical development, teach conflict resolution and foster respect for others.
This cut is resplendent from the first note to the very last one. If you have read any of my reviews of Frank’s work in the past, you already know that I believe him to have been blessed by God with one of THE most handsome, full-bodied, rich and EXPRESSIVE voices this writer has ever encountered. There is a distinguished, distinctive quality to Frank’s voice. One listen to this amazing recording and you’ll immediately hear what I mean. It is so well crafted, and sung….and it is so evidently pulled from that “special place” way deep down within Frank. The melody may not present him with a vocal challenge, yet the story, itself, demands to be sung with a love and caring that Frank easily carries out. Palma provides the magnificent orchestration. She, too, has a “knack” to know exactly which spot to sweeten just so, and which ones can stand all by themselves. Her simple, clean piano intro sets the tone for the song, perfectly. Add some beautiful strings here and there to heighten the intensity, and another instrument or two, and voila! Another striking arrangement.
Frank is joined on the chorus by the crisp, strong and clear voice of Broadway’s own Jonathan Rayson. Jonathan’s vocal so compliments…these two are so perfectly tuned-in with each other, that they sound like one voice. Another element to this composition comes from the skilled engineer of the song, Fred Guarino. His guitar chops are rock solid. Fred adds such nice, tasteful guitar elements to this song – nothing overdone, and his guitar is a very important piece of the whole.
After a modulation where Frank’s lead vocal takes on just the slightest “edge” to accentuate the lyrics, and as he does so, the most awesome set of vocal “aaahhhh’s,” almost like “pleas of heartfelt pain” punctuate just how intense the story is getting, and we hear them for just 4 very important, chilling measures. It’s here that not only Frank and Jonathan can be heard, but Palma’s voice is added to the mix, as well. Each vocal layer floats, one above the other, exact diction in-sync with one another, and this dynamic build not only moves the story towards a climactic point – it’s just absolutely touching and oh, so gorgeous.
Frank artfully sings a short bridge – we hear a waterfall of vocal ooo’s at one point, and then….an effective pause….a SECOND modulation, and suddenly, those wonderful stacked voices are back – a bit more powerfully and even more beautiful. Once the pinnacle of the song has been reached, Jonathan and Palma’s voices are no longer…that is, Frank turns around the chorus with everyone’s voices but then he takes it out on his own, just as he introduces it – in a tender voice that tells the listener an entire story, in and of its own accord. The vision you described to me early in this process, Frank, was spot-on. The song is stunning……simply, stunning!
TO KEEP YOU WITH ME comes in as the number 5 cut, and is a hauntingly beautiful Palma Pascale composition. Written for survivors of suicide victims, this exquisite number is read so captivatingly by Frank.
“….Now that it’s final…now that it’s done – My friend, don’t you see that nobody won?
Who is to say if we rewound the years – could we have dried-up all of your tears?
What made you cross the line? Could I have saved you, just one more time?...”
Wow – see what I mean? Frank conveys those lyrics so carefully and thoughtfully – just as one might imagine them to be delivered if in conversation.
Starting so effectively with sounds of both harp and piano, Palma then layers some warm, smooth strings on top, enhancing both Frank’s vocal as well as the very lyrics he is singing; a touch she does SO well. An oboe accentuates one line of the lyric while a lilting flute captures another.
“…Only one question I will repeat over and over awake, and asleep.
Why did you leave us and how could this be? What could I have done to keep you with me?...”
The slight crescendo & ritard at the end of verse two leading into the chorus is accentuated by a beautifully rolled cymbal crash which adds so much to the drama of the overall orchestration.
Soon we hear a more dynamic crescendo & ritard leading into a well-timed and expertly executed modulation: Palma, Frank and Fred all have a hand in creating the orchestration here, building the instrumentation with stronger strings, French horn, more of those gorgeous rolled cymbal crashes, and more. It is truly a breathtaking point in this heartbreaking story, which continues with Frank’s moving interpretation as he sings:
“…Only one question burns in my heart…are you at peace, although we’re apart?
Did you find heaven, and could it be… there was no way to keep you with me?...”
There’s a special tag line at the end that you will enjoy as you listen to this emotion-filled selection, which Frank relays to us so tenderly. BRAVO!
IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW was written by Kim Noblitt in 1992 and is another arrangement that Frank has used for years to perform with live, and it finally gets its due on record here…it’s one of Frank’s most requested concert pieces. Palma embellished it for this compilation (Frank has, unfortunately, been unable to find the origin of the original arrangement). This pop ballad tells such a nice story, and Frank gets to be a bit creative with his vocals on it, as well.
Though there is a significant range to be accomplished when singing this one, Frank seemingly has no trouble whatsoever with either the very low or the very high notes. He again reveals a complete mastery of the melody and seems so at ease while singing it. There is a certain “mystique” that can be deduced as Frank conveys this glorious story to us. It’s a mood one can clearly denote immediately in his voice. I credit not only Frank’s theatrical training for helping get this across, but also his heart shows here, in a big way.
This one becomes highly dynamic as Frank executes the modulation, and in places his vocal intensity is abundant. Frank’s talent is unsurpassed. Magnificent!
MISSION OF LOVE is a 1:33 powerhouse message. Composed in a strikingly dark, minor key, this song sings to both challenge and despair. It comes from a two-act musical play, (J-THREE-SIXTEEN). It doesn’t take more than a moment to figure out the real meaning of the play’s title, and this song provides a perfect backdrop for that famous quote from John 3:16.
Frank sings this compelling dirge with fervor amid a backdrop of dark electric piano and shadowy strings, carefully chosen by the original musician for the recording, Joe Cruz, who is responsible for the super arrangement of this selection. Palma is also heard here, retracing Joe’s string parts for added texture & fullness. In Frank’s vocals, there is evident recognition - it’s most captivating. Frank’s upper register is used here, and every single note is precise, clear and strong. His intonation is dead-on, consistently, and his rendering of this very minor melody brings that familiar “chill factor” to the listener. Impeccably performed!
ALL I EVER TAUGHT YOU is a 2009 Palma Pascale composition. This selection has been strategically placed in this spot in the line-up as a “response” to the previous track, MISSION OF LOVE. Frank shared with me that he feels these two complement each other well, as MISSION OF LOVE is all about the despair of an individual being judged, whereas this selection teaches us all a lesson NOT to judge one another. I recall how excited Palma was when she described to me that she had written this one as she believed the message was such a vital one that needed to be heard.
Frank’s vocals are so evocative…not embellished here, but delivered in a straight-forward, gentle fashion. His read of this awesome composition is perfect – and the listener is being treated to such sensitivity and warmth throughout the piece. I think this creation is a perfect vehicle for Frank. And Dominick Avento III joins in with Palma creating the rich backing vocals that are heard as the second verse begins. Such an expressive and touching composition!
I’LL BELIEVE IN YOU is one that sticks with you and just won’t let go! Performing with Frank on this one is his co-composer, Mary Aulet. Originally produced by Spyros Poulos, and recorded in February of 1997 at Cove City Sound in Glen Cove, NY. Fred Guarino and Frank produced this new version at Tiki, after Fred transferred the original from the 2-inch master analogue tape to a digital recording, which he did at Cove City Sound. On that recording, Mary sang the lead and Frank backed her up. In this reproduced gem, Frank takes the lead, and Mary repeats Frank’s original backing vocals. Even after 10 years of not working together, this one was easily revisited by both.
The lyric tells a story that one can identify with, and the instruments used on this one make it soulful and a real fun listen. The synthesized soprano sax makes me think of being out on a sailboat on a bright, sunny day. The wonderful electric guitar work here was added by Reuben Orshan.
Does this story have a familiar ring? The inner struggle, the “war that wages within,” is a consistent theme throughout the CD DELIVER ME…and I feel it is so wise to recognize that it exists in all of us. A really moving piece that both Frank and Mary give a special feel to – one that remains with the listener in mind and heart.
A ROOM IN MY HEART is a dark sounding, magnetically charged composition composed by Palma Pascale. This brooding and haunting tale of conflict had me on the edge of my seat. The song is set in a minor key to immediately evoke that darkness – that turmoil that we hear lyrically, so incredibly portrayed by Frank’s vocal. As I understand it, this composition came about from Frank’s often mentioning the various “rooms in our hearts” when doing live performances. Palma created an amazing vehicle to express the story in a bit of a different way. By his own design, there is no intro to this one – Frank comes right in telling the story – his voice sounds as though he is truly weary - it comes across very well. He sounds apprehensive – uncertain – questioning. The instrumental structure of this song is kept to a minimum of instruments. Palma uses grand piano – smooth strings, and a “trilled” string is used quite sparingly, which not only accentuates the piece in all the right places, but also adds incredible texture and an element of audible confusion. As the story continues, the inner conflict continues as well, up until the well-timed modulation where, seemingly, our storyteller has made an important decision…one not easily made, yet made, nonetheless. In relaying this piece of the story, Frank’s tone and his inflections change immediately. There is a new command of the thought process and a determination to open that room, as hard as that might seem.
DELIVER ME is the CD’s title track for many reasons. This 1997 Peter Eldridge composition is a tale of discord and internal struggle. The prayer here is to be delivered from such conflict and strife as one finds in their life. As I commented earlier, this is a most profound song, and Frank’s interpretation of it is splendid, indeed! Peter Eldridge does the accompaniment for Frank on this, his own composition. Peter’s jazz influenced chord structure doesn’t go unnoticed. He gives us an interpretation of his piano-only accompaniment just as Frank does, vocally. Frank and Peter recorded this song live in the studio. And…there is no question that Frank is masterful at allowing the conflict to be represented by his vocal elocution of DELIVER ME. That conflict that Frank is singing about here is evident in every single note; it makes the story come alive. He sings this with such perception – such confirmation.
The song begins with Frank singing an entire rubato, a cappella verse (w/o benefit of instrument behind him), and his intonation is spot-on as Peter joins in. This first verse, showcasing only Frank’s incredible voice, sets the stage for the song both conceptually as well as interpretively. There is such dynamic in this song – so much room for individual interpretation – the sometimes seemingly dissonant chord structure, as well as the dissonance of the message are both important and appreciated. Powerful – Sincere – Genuine…STELLAR!
OPEN HEAVEN – the benediction- I like the way Frank has taken two very different versions of OPEN HEAVEN and used them as bookends. And…this one clearly sounds like it should be the benediction. Very prayerfully sung – reverently & soft. It’s “celestial” sounding. Once again Frank’s vocals compliment the instruments, and vice versa. I love the fact that Palma adds only a “hint” of the Baroque sound in the instrumental portion, here which ties it in nicely with the invocation! The key signature of the benediction is 1 full step higher than the invocation, which, on its own, lends itself to a whole different sound.
I recall telling Frank at one point how I enjoyed listening to his tasteful ‘vocal calisthenics’ at various strategically placed areas throughout this compilation. To have such a powerful instrument as this and to be able to use it as eloquently as Frank does is, truly, a gift. Some of those ‘vocal calisthenics’ are evident in this sweetened version of OPEN HEAVEN. As I listen to this last track on the CD, I find it pulling together the entire compilation and wrapping-up the feeling of this ambitious effort quite nicely. The theme woven throughout the lyrics and heightened by the melodies in this effort is, indeed, pointing not only towards one’s propensity toward identifying their own inner conflict, but also knowing it is He we can turn to in order to find the needed answers to resolve our conflicts and find true peace of mind.
This compilation has touched me personally, on many different levels, time and again. Bravo to Frank Rendo, and all who participated in the making of this spectacular CD. What a gift we have been given.
“…Remember - Deliver - Me…”
Timothy J. San Paolo – July, 2009