Perhaps Kenny Ray Hatton was born a generation too late. Not that his audience minds. Indeed, with his singular vocal talent, charismatic stage presence and abiding devotion to the golden age of American popular song, Kenny projects the aura of a latter-day rat-packer.
In a sense, Kenny’s music and performance style are a loving nod to the greats who came before. Sinatra. Ella. Nat Cole. But it’s more than that. Because, as Kenny will tell you, his aim as a performer is to transport the audience to a time when the song was bigger than the singer. Kenny connects with his audience, whether it’s through a recording or from the stage, in a way few modern performers can.
The 13 songs on this CD, Raise the Roof, are all the evidence you need.
Unlike much of today’s musical fare, these songs have a timeless, rather than transient, quality. Each track is an experience in itself, giving the disk a welcome variety in lyrical theme, rhythm and emotion. The selections include not only known standards, but also newly-penned treasures from the inimitable Chilton Price.
Through divine intervention or just plain luck, Kenny somehow found Chilton and her songs. Or, rather, her songs found him. Somehow, the paths of these musical soul mates were meant to cross and you, the listener, are the better for it.
It may well have been destiny that brought acclaimed arranger/accompanist Jay Flippin into the fold as well. Jay lends his creative vision as arranger of each of the numbers on Raise the Roof, save one. The man really knows his way around a song.
The collaboration of this distinguished trio of Great American Songbook devotees – Kenny, Chilton and Jay – has yielded songs that are exceptionally conceived, crafted and performed.
So download away, press Play and enjoy a musical journey you won’t soon forget.
Kenny Ray cut his musical teeth as the lead singer of an award-winning quartet, Bluegrass Student Union. A lifelong showman, he has performed in theaters from London to Beijing, with stops at Carnegie Hall and the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. His travels have taken him through 49 states, plus the District of Columbia, where he gave a command performance for President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office.
Chilton Price first earned acclaim as a songwriter when two of her songs, “You Belong to Me” and “Slowpoke” spent several weeks at #1 on the Hit Parade in 1952. She received gold records for both, and Jo Stafford’s version of the former is a virtual anthem for the 1950s era America. Chilton’s songs have been recorded by Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Gordon McRae, Vaughn Monroe, Pee Wee King, and Mitch Miller.
Pianist Jay Flippin is a legend among discriminating jazz and pop fans. His talents have supported the likes of Mel Tormé, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney, Bernadette Peters, Percy Sledge, Wilson Picket, Aaron Neville and the Temptations. In February of 2006, Jay was honored as Kentucky Artist of the Year by Governor Ernie Fletcher. Jay also is an acclaimed arranger and composer, having earned an Emmy for his score in the Witek & Novak film, “Ashes to Glory.”
“When Kenny Ray opened his mouth and sang the first few bars of something I had written, I felt frozen in time. Here was what I had always wanted for my music: a voice to translate the feeling from the notes back to the way I felt when I wrote them. This recording is special to me for so many reasons. Kenny has become a dear friend, and the fact that he thinks enough of my music to include it with the greats of the era is gratifying. His solo voice defies description, and it should have been heard by the masses long ago. I’m glad I had some little part in discovering him.” Songwriter Chilton Price
“Kenny Ray’s interpretations of standards, old and new, are models of insight, connection with lyrics and musicality.” Performing artist Michael Feinstein
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Piano - Jay Flippin * Bass - Danny Cecil * Drums - Jason Tiemann * Guitar - Ron Davidson
Big Band Horns
Lead Trumpet - Vincent DiMartino, Joey Tartell * Trumpet III – Michael Hackett *
Trumpet IV – Richard Byrd * Tenor Sax I – Gordon Towell * Tenor Sax II – David Anderson
Alto Sax I – Hunt Butler * Alto Sax II – Brian Hodges * Baritone Sax – Miles Davis
Trombone I – Jon Topy * Trombone II – Chris Fortner * Trombone III – Mildred Kemp
Bass Trombone – Eddie Clark * Horn Contractor – Miles Davis
Jazz Band Horns
Trumpet – Chris Eans * Tenor Sax – Tim Whelan * Alto Sax – Jacob Duncan
Violin I - Steve Taylor, Assia Dulgerska, Barbara Ann Meek
Violin II - Patricia Sisson, Karen Lord-Powell, Kimberly Tichenor, Paola Manrique
Viola - Melinda Odle, Jamie Hofman, Joel Gibbs * Cello - Guoyn Shong, Marlene Ballena
String Player Contractor – Steve Taylor
Engineering, Mix & Edit - Phil Stirgwolt, TNT Productions/Falk Studio, Louisville, KY
Producers - Kenny Ray, Chilton Price & Jay Flippin
Cover Art Design & Layout – Mark Stiebling
Photography - Dave Duncan
The producers pay homage to the songwriters, recording artists and/or publishers whose work has inspired our renditions of the cover songs included here. All protected works were arranged and recorded with the permission of the copyright owners. The performance rights for this recording, also an intellectual property, are entirely owned by Kenny Ray, Chilton Price and Jay Flippin (licensing agency BMI). Unauthorized sale, broadcast or other use of the recording or its songs or arrangements constitute violation of applicable copyright laws.
Thanks to our families and friends for their encouragement and support, especially Barbara, Mike, Dwight and Margie Hatton, Jack & Terry Yaste, Nancy Flippin, Jim, Jan & Alex Simpson, Danny Ward, Walter & Marjorie Latzko, Mary Jo Thompson, Dave Duncan, Jan Clause, Jerry & Kim Orloff, George McKay, Richard Treptow, Brian & Holly Beck, John & Carole Buckley, Kevin & Nerida White, Rik Johnson, Steve Oliver, Tim Haertel, Gary Falk, Chris Kamerer and Pate Ferris.
Special thanks to Allen Hatton, for artistic direction and advice.
1. Raise the Roof – I first heard this song on Sirius Radio while traveling in Phoenix, and almost wrecked the car! Young Peter Cincotti’s version was captivating, and I immediately knew this number (with a faster tempo) would provide the right “smoke & fire” needed for an edgy “opener.” We recognized our jazz band players with some new lyrics, and Jay’s arrangement added fuel to that fire with three hot horn parts (krh). Words & Music by Andrew Edwin Lippa, © 1999 Lippa Songs – Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owner - Trumpet Chris Eans, Tenor Sax Tim Whalen, Alto Sax Jacob Duncan.
2. Route 66 – Nat Cole has always been my favorite, so we stayed true to his interpretation the first time through (best that we could), and added more of our own style after the turnaround. It was a dream come true to record this particular song (krh). Words & Music by Bobby Troup, © 1946 Troup London Music – Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owner.
3. The Frim Fram Sauce – During the session, our fine young bassist, Danny Cecil, asked the age-old question, “ What is cha fa fa?” I told him the writers had invented some new metaphors to refer to a less-mentionable physical appetite. That way, the song would play a little joke on a segment of the audience, and, you know, some of the musicians. We added a verse, and new 2nd chorus lyric, so we don’t have to ‘splain it anymore ((krh). Words & Music by Redd Evans & Joseph Ricardel, © 1946 Music Sales Corp. – Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owner.
4. I’ve Forgotten You – Jay and I agreed that this poignant ballad from Chilton’s collection was a “must” for the CD, and Jacob’s sexy alto sax break earned him the nickname “Smokey.” Even if he has two left feet, any guy who isn’t moved to invite his lady to dance to this tune will be killed (krh). Words & Music by Chilton Price & Kenny Ray Hatton © 2003 Chilton Price & Kenny Ray Hatton – Arranged by Jay Flippin with permission from the copyright owners - Alto Sax Solo by Jacob Duncan.
5. If I Never See You Again – Chilton was inspired to write this song by the moving story of singer Celine Dion’s husband, Rene Angelil, and his courageous battle with cancer. Jay and I felt the Bossa Nova treatment lightened the mood, mirroring the couple’s positive attitude in the face of adversity (krh). Words & Music by Chilton Price © 2003 Chilton Price & Kenny Ray Hatton – Arranged by Jay Flippin with permission from the copyright owners – Guitar Solo by Ron Davidson.
6. That Old Feeling – This standard has produced great rubato renditions by many fine artists, but ours was inspired by the late Chet Baker’s swing version. The new verse lyric adds a twist that makes it seem like the singer might have a chance to win back his old flame (krh). Words & Music by Lew Brown & Sammy Fain © 1937 W. B. Music Corp & Fain Music Co. – Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owner – Trombone Solo by Jon Topy.
7. A Change Is Gonna Come – Jay and I decided on a Ray Charles approach to make our rendition of this tune different from the great Sam Cooke hit version. It produced a Gospel feel, and we chose to repeat the bridge and second “A” theme words to make the message more believable when delivered by a middle-class white dude. It turned out to be Chilton’s favorite (krh). Words & Music by Larry J. Coleman & Sam Cooke © 1963 Out Da Trunk Publishing – Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owner.
8. Baltimore Oriole – This tune was introduced to us by Pate Ferris when he and his guitar opened for us during a week of recent performances. Some “itunes” research showed that artists like George Harrison and John Mellencamp had covered the Hoagland’s lament as a slow, free-style ballad. We decided on a 2-beat cakewalk feel, and it felt good, if I do say so myself. The addition of a verse and new second chorus lyric made the story long enough for the quicker pace, and we hope the iconic Misters Carmichael and Webster are proud of the result, wherever they are (krh). Music by Hoagy Carmichael & Paul Francis Webster © 1942 Songs of Peer Ltd. & Webster Music Company – Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owners – Trumpet Solo by Chris Eans.
9. Out In Company – Jay decided this song called for a Mozart frame, and interpolated the master’s “Sonata in C” to paint the message where applicable. That lent even more fun to Chilton’s already charming piece, which provided some needed comic relief for the CD (krh). Words & Music by Chilton Price and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart © 2003 Chilton Price & Kenny Ray Hatton –Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owners.
10. Our Song – Chilton is always asking us to give her a title or a story that will inspire a new work. I thought a song sung to a song might be a neat twist on the often-used theme of lovers parting. She agreed, and far exceeded my expectations with a tear jerker that is certain to make all humans and some other species cry in their beer (krh). Words & Music by Chilton Price & Kenny Ray Hatton © 2003 Chilton Price & Kenny Ray – Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owners.
11. Desafinado (Slightly Out of Tune) – I’ve been a fan and practitioner of a cappella music for many years. New York friend and genius arranger Walter Latzko agreed to write a challenging “voices-only” chart of Jobim’s great work (using the “good” English lyric), and made me a very happy harmony singer (krh). Words & Music by Antonio Carlos Jobim & Newton Ferrera De Mendonca © 1959 Corcovado Music Corp. & Benig Music Corp. – Arranged by Walter Latzko, with permission from the copyright owners. Background vocals by Kenny Ray Hatton.
12. Easy Goin’ – The lilting tempo and rhythm suggested by Chilton make the recording live up to the song’s name. I dig the way Jay’s piano accompaniment gets gradually busier as other players join in one-at-a-time. Engineer Phil captured a magic moment (krh). Words & Music by Chilton Price & Kenny Ray © 2003 Chilton Price & Kenny Ray Hatton – Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owners – Piano Solo by Jay Flippin, Tenor Sax by Tim Whalan.
13. It’s a Wonderful Life – The classic Frank Capra film of the same title inspired Chilton to write this one. Like the movie, the song sends a perfect message out to the world. You’re important because you have impact on the rest of us (krh). Words & Music by Chilton Price & Kenny Ray Hatton © 2003 Chilton Price & Kenny Ray Hatton - Arranged by Jay Flippin, with permission from the copyright owners – Alto Sax Solo by Hunt Butler.