Melissa and Barry Manilow | Photo: © Lena Ringstad
In 1989, I recorded an album called Tribute which was my homage to several of the iconic women singers who sparked a great light in my young soul. Ella, Judy, Edith, Rosie, Dionne and a few others shared that sacred space with me and shined their light on the path to come. I’ve always wanted to complete that idea with a follow-up album called The Fellas, paying tribute to some of the equally great male singers – Frank, Tony, Nat, Johnny and several others. So, here it is – at long last – through a gift made possible by Dean Bob Slack of Citrus College and their fantastic Blue Note Orchestra. Sing and swing along, everybody!
AIN’T THAT A KICK IN THE HEAD
2:58 (J. Van Heusen/S. Cahn) – Dean Martin
Dino introduced this swingin’ song, written by the giants Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, in the original Ocean’s Eleven. David Catalan, a Citrus alum, created this fabulous arrangement. It swings and pops – the perfect kickoff for what’s to come!
3:54 (R. Allen/A. Stillman) – Johnny Mathis
This is the only song on the album that I chose to re-think and re-shape into a lush bossa nova, beautifully arranged by my gorgeous friend, Terry Wollman. I love the coy, cheeky and alluring lyrics. Enjoy!
THEY SAY IT’S WONDERFUL
4:05 (I. Berlin) – Johnny Hartman
The exquisite voice of Johnny Hartman is unknown to most. I aim to change that. On his legendary album with jazz genius John Coltrane, Mr. Hartman had the great good taste to choose this Irving Berlin-penned song from his musical Annie Get Your Gun. This glorious arrangement is by my beloved friend, Peter Hume.
FOR ME AND MY GAL
2:46 (G. W. Meyer/E. Leslie/E. R. Goetz) – Gene Kelly
My precious friend, Barry Manilow, suggested this song as a tribute to musical film star Gene Kelly. Since Kelly had sung this with Judy Garland, in a film by the same name, it seemed like a perfect fit. Barry was knocked out by the great, creative spirit very much alive at Citrus College. The kids loved meeting him as well. As far as friends go, Barry is the best!
LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
3:36 (L. E. Gensler/L. Robin) – Mel Tormé
I am honored that Mel Tormé and Johnny Mathis recorded some songs of mine, ever so beautifully. I was so amazed by Mel’s scat tour de force that I had to make it my nod to the great Tormé. To my knowledge, this piece had only been performed with the late great jazz pianist, George Shearing, but never fully orchestrated. Once again, Citrus alum David Catalan did a masterful job of knocking this one out of the park!
4:08 (C. Chaplin/J. Turner/G. Parsons) – Nat King Cole
Like so many of these endearing and enduring artists, Nat King Cole had many, many superb songs to choose from. “Smile,” written by the great Charlie Chaplin, expressed Mr. Cole’s elegance and dignity. Doug Walter’s arrangement is sublime and, of course … Unforgettable.
NIGHT AND DAY
3:55 (C. Porter) – Frank Sinatra
“Night And Day,” by the legendary Cole Porter, was recorded several times during the
career of the “Chairman of the Board.” Originally, Sinatra’s version was younger, mellower and more tender. In 1957, Sinatra once again recorded it with an amazing arrangement by Nelson Riddle. Peter Hume has cleverly combined the scope of these two approaches in his haunting, yet thrilling, orchestration.
HOW DO YOU KEEP THE MUSIC PLAYING
4:46 (M. Legrand/A.Bergman/M. Bergman) – Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett has, literally, had the longest career of all these gents. He sees life as a journey of learning, as do I. When I saw him sing this masterpiece of a song, written by my friends Marilyn and Alan Bergman, with music by Michel Legrand, at the conclusion of his televised 90th birthday celebration from Radio City Music Hall, I thought, “That song sums up Tony’s life,” … and, frankly, mine as well. It seemed the perfect ending for the album.