Archive for August, 2011
Tony-nominated actor Tom Wopat, currently on Broadway in the musical “Catch Me If You Can,” has released a new jazz album. “Consider It Swung” is a wide-ranging fourteen-song collection. It’s got a little bit of everything: standards, Broadway tunes, and covers of songs from Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Bobbie Gentry and Blood, Sweat and Tears. There’s also one original song by Wopat entitled “Thailand Sea,” a lovely tune about tropical romance inspired by the singer’s experiences. Wopat’s raspy baritone is engaging and, as a actor, he has the ability to capture the songs’ stories with eloquence and ease.
Wopat has gathered stellar jazz musicians to make this a wonderful set from beginning to end. Tedd Firth plays the piano and was the arranger on most of the songs on this album. Peter Grant plays drums and Bob Malach plays the saxophone, while the bassist, David Finck, served as producer. Wopat served as associate producer. Additional musicians include: John Fedchock and Birch Johnson on trombone, and Barry Danielian, Robert Milliken and Brian Preschi on trumpet.
“Consider It Swung,” Wopat’s first album in six years, opens with the standard made famous by Sinatra, “That’s Life.” It’s a good rendition and a classy way to kick things off. Next, Wopat swings into the classic rock song “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat and Tears. Like all albums of standards, there’s a Gershwin tune. In this case, Wopat chose George and Ira’s “But Not For Me.” This listener really liked, and almost didn’t recognize, his interpretation of “42nd Street”; this version sounds more like a ballad than a show tune.
Wopat’s skills go way beyond the American songbook and Broadway, where he’s spent the greater part of the last two decades. In fact, he’s really wonderful at interpreting mainstream material. It is these songs that stand out most on this album. Bobbie Gentry’s classic “Ode To Billie Joe” receives an original interpretation. He makes the sad tale a little easier to listen to. And while this listener considers Steely Dan among the greatest, and thinks no one could do them justice, she really enjoyed Wopat’s version of Steely’s masterpiece “Deacon Blues.” He cut it to a little over six minutes compared to the original seven and half, and that was a good idea. He really shines on Joni Mitchell’s “Two Grey Rooms,” and Walach’s sax adds the magic touch.
Tom Wopat is a talented singer on Broadway and in the studio. He has a wide range of tastes in music and it shows in his song selection. He spreads his musical wings on “Consider It Swung.” It’s a winner!
Enrico Caruso, the Italian tenor, was born on February 25, 1873, and died on this date (August 2) in 1921. He sang at the major opera houses of Europe and North and South America. Caruso made approximately 290 commercially released recordings from 1902 to 1920.
O Sole Mio