The collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart was an unlikely one. Rodgers was organized and businesslike, while Hart was a notoriously unreliable alcoholic. Yet in spite of their divergent personalities, their collaboration produced some of the most beloved entries in the Great American Songbook. I leave it to their contemporaries to elaborate further:
Tuneful and tasty, schmaltzy and smart.
Music by Rodgers, lyrics by Hart.” – Irving Berlin
It’s smooth! It’s smart! It’s Rodgers! It’s Hart!” – Cole Porter
The meticulously crafted music of Rodgers combined with Hart’s dazzling lyrics to produce over five hundred songs, populating twenty-eight theatrical productions and nine movies. This recording contains fifteen of my favorites, and I hope some of yours too.
The music on this CD is a combination of carefully planned, well-rehearsed arrangements, along with some good old fashioned “blowing.” (As we jazz folk like to call improvisation.) My goal has been to create a setting for each tune that helps express its essential nature. Here are some examples of what I mean:
- The enormously clever lyrical phrases of “I Wish I Were in Love Again” come one after another at an alarming rate. They have a percussive quality that led me to the vamp style introduction and accompaniment of the arrangement. In the instrumental break, I tried to mimic the phrasing musically with the guitar and piano.
- I find the melody of “Wait Till You See Her” to be extremely powerful in its simple beauty. So, for the instrumental section, I decided to showcase the melody with Lou’s artful bowing over a re-harmonized background provided by Peter and myself.
- I selected the bare bones guitar/voice treatment of “It Never Entered My Mind” to enhance the quality of the song’s deeply personal reckoning of love gone wrong.
- My semi-classical, instrumental treatment of “Blue Room” was inspired by the carefully measured intervallic steps of its melody. I envisioned the arrangement as collaboration between Richard Rodgers and J.S. Bach!
As I continue to explore the guitar, piano, bass trio format, new possibilities manifest themselves. I’ve come to think of my trio as a little big band, and have been trying to expand the palette of musical textures and colors available to explore the great beauty of the timeless classics that we play. (Including, but not limited to using my guitar as a bongo drum!)
Still, let there be no mistake; our goals here are to share the bountiful riches of the extraordinary Rodgers and Hart, swing hard, and to get you tapping your feet and smiling.
Once again, I have the privilege of recording with my working trio, featuring Peter Tomlinson on piano and Lou Pappas on bass. As always, I am greatly indebted to them for their inestimable contributions and commitment.
I am “Bewitched” with this music. I hope that you will be too.