Barbara Lea w/the Loren Schoenberg Big Band | Black Butterfly

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Jazz: Big Band Jazz: Jazz Vocals Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Black Butterfly

by Barbara Lea w/the Loren Schoenberg Big Band

Perfect marriage of smokey, classic vocals from legendary singer, Barbara Lea with the thrilling jazz band sounds of the unparalleled Loren Schoenberg Big Band, performing time honored standards and more -- champagne and caviar.
Genre: Jazz: Big Band
Release Date: 

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1. Black Butterfly
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4:51 $0.99
2. Together
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3:56 $0.99
3. Bend a Little My Way
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5:05 $0.99
4. Restless
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4:53 $0.99
5. My Foolish Heart
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2:18 $0.99
6. How Will I Remember You
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5:21 $0.99
7. It's So Peaceful in the Country
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5:38 $0.99
8. Blame It On My Youth
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4:26 $0.99
9. When They Ask About You
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5:08 $0.99
10. 'round Midnight
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5:10 $0.99
11. All By Myself
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3:35 $0.99
12. Blackberry Winter
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4:58 $0.99
13. If I Love Again
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4:10 $0.99
14. Mother May I Go Out to Swim
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4:59 $0.99
15. Just Squeeze Me
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3:36 $0.99
16. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
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4:00 $0.99
17. Come Rain or Come Shine
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4:12 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
From Loren Schoenberg's liner notes:

It could be the vowels. Take Blame It On My Youth. At the end of the verse, she sings away and I have never heard an A sung like that before. It amplifies the text, the melody and that ineffable effect Barbara Lea casts every time she sings. The word “you” comes up a dozen or so measures later and there it is again -- the shape of a sound magically wedded to meaning.

It could also be the diction. The t’s, the d's -- all of the sounds that make words distinct from each other are in Lea’s hands (make that mouth) things of great beauty. Never self-conscious, she nonetheless enunciates in a manner that should be the envy of any singer who loves the English language.

But then again, it could very well be the love of melody and words and the commensurate respect for the composers and the lyricists who labored to produce the masterpieces that comprise this collection. Even given that jazz is largely a matter of theme and variations, far too many times the compositional baby has been thrown out with the interpretive bath water. Lea takes liberties to be sure, but they are deserved ones that underline and enhance the composer’s intentions.

The program is also a major consideration. Some of the songs are well known, while the majority are still far from warhorses. In the months spent working on this album, those of us involved in the production heard these selections dozens of times each and I can tell you that Barbara’s interpretations contain a level of subtlety that reveal new facets on each listening.

The arrangers outdid themselves. Chris Madsen, a creative saxophonist/composer just out of Juilliard, had the challenge of setting two Lea originals. Given a recording of just the melody and words -- no harmony -- he more than rose to the challenge with two very different approaches. The other arrangers are all veterans with many recordings to their credit. Mike Christianson’s If I Love Again was written about 7 years ago, while When They Ask About You was done just for this session. Note the great ingenuity Mike reveals in writing for the band sans trumpets (save the solo) and by the canny use of the reeds doubling clarinets. Mark Lopeman, upon hearing the first read-through of Bend A Little My Way, decided to revise it overnight and came up with a gem. One moment to savor is the rising ensemble scale followed by the dissolve into muted brass and a rising bass clarinet right after Barbara sings “please see a few things my way”. Brent Wallarab flew in from Indianapolis to conduct his arrangements and wound up playing on the second date. Blackberry Winter, Blame It On My Youth and How Will I Remember You, above all, fit Barbara like an immaculately tailored dress. The arrangers confronted the challenge of writing on a short deadline with grace and came up smelling like roses, all.

The other big band pieces were ones that we had been performing over the last 26 years. What more can be said than that they were arranged by Benny Carter, Eddie Sauter, and the undersung Spud Murphy? By the way, when we played Restless with Benny Goodman, he was especially smitten with Barbara’s style.

Then there are the small group tunes, mostly duets where I played the piano and Barbara sang. On one we did some overdubbing, and on another, John Eckert, on a tour and unable to make the big band dates, played some of his trademark soulful trumpet, with accompaniment on drums from Ken Kimery.

It must be noted that this album would not have happened without the support in every way imaginable of Jeanie Wilson; indeed the entire project was her idea! As for the big band, I have one thing to say to them - a heartfelt thank you. Every single person playing those nights is equally responsible for the -- dare I say -- magic that occurred. Those familiar with my band since our first recording in 1984 will recognize that many of us have been making music together for a long time. I like to think it sounds that way. Almost all of the performances you are hearing are first or second takes. If I were to single one player out above the others it would be unfair. Most of their names should be familiar to you, and the ones that aren’t yet by virtue of their young age will soon join their elders in the ranks of New York’s first call players.

Oh yes, it could also be this - I love Barbara Lea.


Reviews


to write a review

June Siegel (lyricist)

This CD rates 5-stars--and then some
It’s the trip of a lifetime through every kind of terrain, change of season, nuance of weather, shift of emotional climate. The familiar is transformed in totally unexpected ways. Right at the start we encounter a darkly cautionary Duke Ellington . “Black Butterfly “ is a dangerous magnificent title song. Toward the end of the album however, the Duke returns for two very Ellington moments :“Just Squeeze Me” and “I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart”—the latter in Barbara’s lovely fresh young voice plus a neat cool tempo from Schoenberg’s tenor sax--and Chirillo’s guitar.
At every turn , in fact, there are unexpected iconoclastic choices. I was cheerfully puzzled by the up-tempo take on “All By Myself”, till I realized that Barbara couldn’t resist the fatal attraction of Irving Berlin’s way with rhyme. “I sit alone in a cozy Morris chair…playing solitaire…” Self-pity goes out the window—even unto the wry punch line : “I want to rest my weary head on somebody’s shoulder/ I hate to grow older/ All by myself.”
Thanks also to the eclectic selections, I rediscovered, en route, the Oscar Levant I’d been mad about in my youth. Ah! “Blame It On My Youth.” Only the tantalizingly sour Oscar could have carried off the perfect series of twists—and topped them triumphantly with the ultimate line of retribution: “Don’t blame it on my heart/ Blame it on my youth”—delivered to perfection by Barbara. (Right at this moment, where a delightful “talky” trombone solo enters, I should mention the marvelous instrumental interludes that add their own commentary to the goings-on. The band is not only a rich musical matrix, it is part of the intelligence and emotional depth that informs Barbara’s work.)
Most amazing to me is the freshness of Barbara’s inspiration. I found something new and important every time I listened to the CD. But for me now “Mother May I Go Out to Swim” is the all-time favorite song-of-experience. The lyric, written by Barbara and unearthed by Jeanie Wilson, was set as a folk song by the gifted young arranger Chris Madsen. The result is a timelessly true and musically gorgeous ballad. For my grandchildren and their grandchildren to sing…

Lawrence Krell


I found the combination of her performance with the big band top drawer her songs including her own was an excellent choice' shows potentiaL as a budding song writer using rhythm as well as ballads. I'd say this is probaly her most commercial album should sell well and pick up alot of fans I reccomend it highly

John Cox

Most musical Lea and ditto Schoenberg
Nothing by Barbara Lea should ever be passed over without investigation and this CD proves the point. This is not a jump-up-and-down yam-bam-bam CD but a relatively calm and measured look at some of the great songs in the repertory. Miss Lea does calm and measured better than most and she's much helped in her efforts here by the unfailingly musical Loren Schoenberg (always convincing, not always exciting) and his team of top session men. This may be mainly for established Lea-fanciers but it could be said that that is one of the best ways of listening to popular vocal jazz. She's a great lady!

Annie Dinerman, singer/songwriter


After listening to this CD from start to finish, I was impressed with the sheer physical vitality of Barbara Lea's vocals. The arrangements are tops and so right for her, especially “I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart” and “Blackberry Winter”. A particular highlight: “It’s So Peaceful In The Country” which I've heard Barbara sing live and am so happy to have now on a CD to treat myself to any time I want!

I loved “Blackberry Winter”, “Just Squeeze Me”, “I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart” and “Blame It On My Youth”. My absolute favorites are “Restless”, since this song was new to me and Ms. Lea ‘did it up brown,’ and her own “Mother May I Go Out To Swim”. I loved this arrangement, which is a nod to 20th Century orchestrations of American folk songs. No one could possibly do a better rendition because it’s so personal and artistically responsible and compelling to hear.

Ms. Lea achieves true intimacy in her singing, in both the selections with the big band as well as with the smaller groups. I personally continue to be challenged by her work to strive for authenticity and simplicity in my own. This beautiful project should be a source of pride for everyone involved in putting it together. BRAVA!