A beautiful collection of romantic standards like "My foolish Heart", "Dindi", and "Isn't Romantic", plus some of Chris Bennett's award winning originals like "You Never Saw Me Dance" and "Theme from Midnight Express". Features Eric Doney on keys and Wayne Johnson on guitar. JAZZ TIMES magazine gave this accoustic album a rave review!
Chris Bennett is a Grammy nominated contemporary jazz singer, pianist and composer.
Chris Bennett is a Grammy nominated contemporary jazz singer, pianist and composer. Her sound has been compared to Diana Krall and Shirley Horn, but with a more dynamic performance style. She also writes much of her own material as well as covering some jazz standards. She began her career as the lead singer of "Munich Machine" and has evolved into one of the top jazz singers working today.
While musical fads come and go in other genres, a great jazz vocalist can be as timeless as the songs that transcend time and place. The huge success of singer/pianists Diana Krall and Shirley Horn happily reflects the public's renewed appreciation and hunger for divas of this nature, opening a cozy, intimate spot for the magnificent charms of Chris Bennett. Her Chartmaker Records debut LESS IS MORE is a stunning, passionate statement, a blend of timeless standards and original material that reflects both her jazz and pop sensibilities in a simple but dramatic setting. A true musical trooper whose career encompasses every possible artistic expression - songwriter, pianist, backing vocalist, film and video scorer - Bennett invites us into her world with a gentle but firm embrace. "My goal was to find the simplicity of this music and let those eloquent bare bones shine through," says Bennett, whose self-titled 1995 recording featured a busier production than the one here created by Bennett and co-producers Eric Doney and Bob Loftus. "Taking a no frills type of approach, we worked at paring things down so that every subtle vocal nuance could shine through. I felt that would help me make the most impact and touch listeners on a deeper level." Doney, a fellow pianist whose resume boasts work with legends like Les Brown, Jon Hendricks and Phil Woods, started a small boutique label in his hometown of Pen Argyl, PA. Bennett was producing a young Japanese artist, and in a tough spot, Doney filled in as musical director for their tour of Japan. "Eric got me thinking about my own music on a more acoustic level," recalls Bennett. "He was the one who inspired me to focus on myself, fine tuning my instrument, rather than the surroundings, teaching me that soft notes and the spaces between them, as well as undersinging in certain spots, can often have as great an impact as a flurry of activity." Bennett cites a 1975 recording by Tony Bennett (no relation) and the late great pianist Bill Evans as a primary inspiration for LESS IS MORE. She, Doney, and Loftus decided to record a handful of her favorite standards with just piano and vocal. Deciding to mix these with a balance of original Bennett compositions (including her Grammy nominated collaboration with pop producer Giorgio Moroder, "THEME FROM MIDNIGHT EXPRESS"), they shifted to Los Angeles, where they engaged the trio of Doney on piano, Cliff Hugo on bass, and Mz. Bobbye Hall on percussion. An accomplished pianist herself, Bennett accompanied herself on three songs. She then recorded two songs with guitarist Wayne Johnson, and, when she played at the Concert Pour La Terre in March 1996 in Tahiti, she engaged a favorite young saxman, Armando Castagnoli, to accompany her. Gary Herbig's graceful flute and Haim Shtrum's violin create glorious harmonies on several tracks. LESS IS MORE engages us with the poignant, after hours tenderness of "Drifting" before brilliantly conveying the elegance and heart of three wonderfully arranged standards, "Where Do You Start?", "Isn't It Romantic?", and a melancholy "My Foolish Heart". Bennett's hypnotic original "Make Me New For You" seduces with a sassy Samba groove, which is followed by two more perfectly realized standards, Rodgers and Hammerstein's "People Will Say We're In Love" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's ever- popular "Dindi". The next four Bennett originals - the hopeful yet haunting "Midnight Express", a fear of love themed gem called "Feels Like a Heartbreak", the plaintive "You Never Saw Me Dance" and the triumphant title track - demonstrate the full range of Bennett's songwriting talent, and hold up well against the classics. Rounding out the set is "Some Other Time", a standard about love set aside which reflects Bennett's early days as a musical comedy performer. Chris Bennett's widely varied musical resume is testament to not only a multi-talented hyphenate, but also her determination to succeed in various areas of the industry using all of her multiple gifts. She's performed in clubs and at jazz festivals throughout the world - from New Orleans to Bangkok, Japan to Berlin to Tahiti. Aside from her Grammy nomination for" "Best Composition For A Motion Picture", with Giorgio Moroder, she was the lead singer in the producer's studio band Munich Machine. Her second album, Giorgio and Chris, received the Stereo Review Special Merit Award, and led to a longterm collaboration with him. Not surprisingly, Bennett was also a backup singer for one of Moroder's main charges, Donna Summer, as well as other performers like Johnny Mathis and Rita Coolidge, While seeking her graduate degree at UCLA years before, the Illinois transplant launched her career as a singer/dancer/actress on The Dean Martin Show, the Jim Nabors tour and various variety and award shows. As a songwriter, she's had tunes recorded by Tina Turner, The Manhattan Transfer, The Three Degrees, Nina Storey, Randy Hall and many others. More recently, she has developed a lucrative career scoring commercials and video projects, including the recent hit Yogakids, a children's yoga video for Living Arts and several exercise videos for Warner Home Video. "My parents were both very musical and inspired me from an early age, from my classical training through my great love for pop and jazz," Bennett reflects. "I've worked in many different capacities, but nothing can match the feeling when I see the impact of my music on other people, especially when I am performing it myself for a live audience. The type of music on LESS IS MORE is where my life has always been heading, bringing jazz to a wider audience. Jazz never goes out of style, and gives singers young and old the freedom to try new things all the time. It's the lifelong path I feel most comfortable with." "Comfortable" is just about the perfect adjective for the feeling Chris Bennett gives us with her Chartmaker debut LESS IS MORE. Smack dab in the middle between the generations of Shirley Horn and Diana Krall, Bennett holds her own as a member of this evergrowing group of jazz songstresses. As you listen, you can practically hear her say, "Move over, girls! Is there room on the piano bench for me?" - Jonathan Widran