Rosemary Clooney (Concord)
By Dave Nathan
Never during her more than 50 years of performing has Rosemary Clooney sounded better than on her latest album for Concord Jazz. Long occupying a top rung on the vocalist ladder, it wasn't until she escaped from the clutches of shlock music king, Mitch Miller, at Columbia Records and signed with Concord Jazz that her prodigious talent was nurtured and brought to the fore. Of course the voice shows some wear and tear after all the years, but still oozing out of every note is Clooney's absolute certainty that she is a master of her art along with supreme confidence to deliver the message of the lyrics she is interpreting. The timing, the phrasing, the way she meshes with her musicians remains lawless. Long time musical director and accompanist, John Oddo has outdone himself with the arrangements he has crafted for this session. His flute quartet on "Corcovado," the Antonio Carlos Jobim like voice of Oscar Castro-Nueves on "I Concentrate on You" to the Latin accented percussion work by Paulinho da Costa as he lays down the beat for the excellent ensemble and solo work by Bob Summers, Nina Tempo and Chauncey Welsh on "Sweet Happy Life" are a few examples of Oddo's well thought our orchestrations. Welsch was with Tony Pastor's band when the Clooney Sisters were the girl singers.
Then there's the rendition of Jobim's "Boy from Ipanema" is one of the surprises on this album. High profile singer/piano player Diana Krall shares the stage with Clooney and by doing so, my admiration for Ms Krall increases at least by a factor of ten. It has to be daunting to share the mike with a singing legend in her own time, even for the greatly promoted and high profile performer Diana Krall. High profile notwithstanding, there's no question of who's in charge here. Although she accompanies on piano, Krall's vocal role relegated to that of background singer. The remaining tracks on this album are equally as entertaining and pleasing an aural pallette - - no clinkers here.
Rosemary Clooney is a national musical treasure who should be enshrined in the hearts and minds of avid fans of the Great American Song Book. This album should be given to every aspiring vocalist of tunes from this book, female or male, and told "listen carefully. This is how it's done." To my mind a legitimate candidate for a 2000 Grammy, "Brazil" is highly recommended.
"Rosemary Clooney's 'Brazil' a Class A Effort"
by Steve Eddy
Orange County Register, June 16, 2000
It's a bit of an odd time to suddenly be "discovering" the bossa nova idiom, but Rosemary Clooney has been whistling her own tune for quite a few years now. Better late than never, though - this is a Class A effort that exudes romanticism and boasts all the lovely nuances of this popular Brazilian folk music.
With help from fleet guitarist John Pizzarelli and (on one cut) singer Diana Krall, Clooney renders 15 mostly familiar tunes in her unique, warm, highly expressive manner. Like fine wine, Rosie's voice mellows with age as well as developing additional character.
The disc's showpiece is the nearly-seven-minute "Brazil," a number that, ironically enough, isn't normally associated with this genre. The piece - a neat little suite, really - starts as a duet between Clooney and Pizzarelli's florid acoustic guitar. It soon evolves into a work of many moods, with abrupt tempo changes and fine contributions from a band featuring flutist Steve Kujala, pianist John Oddo, saxophonist Gary Foster, bassist Chuck Berghofer, drummer Jeff Hamilton and others.
The Krall collaboration on "Boy From Ipanema" is sultry and fun, and Clooney's slow-paced take on "Corcovado (Quiet Nights)" a standout. Elsewhere, Pizzarelli sings "Wave" and "Dindi" in his dry, Chet Baker-like manner and duets with Clooney on the lovely "Waters of March."
You've probably heard most of these songs a jillion times, but no matter. The extraordinarily high level of musicianship brings a new freshness and, to boot, the recording (it's also HDCD) is jaw-dropping.
Friday, July 14, 2000
By Kyle O'Brien of The Oregonian staff
Her nephew, George, might be getting most of the press lately for the Clooney family, but Aunt Rosemary has weathered the storm over the past five decades and has come out smelling like a rose. Since she burst onto the scene in 1946 as a 17-year-old vocal phenom with Tony Pastor and his Orchestra, Clooney's emotive, melodic delivery made her a star. And Portland audiences will have a chance to hear the great singer at this year's Mt. Hood Jazz Festival.
"Brazil" is a fine follow-up to her musical autobiographical compilation titled "Songs From the Girl Singer," which chronicled her life in music.
Clooney's lost some of the luster to her voice, but that marvelous phrasing remains, and she remains a vital jazz artist. Here she takes on the lush sounds of Brazil and does a lovely job. It doesn't hurt that she's backed here by guitarist John Pizzarelli, among a bevy of other fine musicians.
This is a bossa-nova-heavy album, taking on most of the popular Brazilian jazz tunes from the late great Antonio Carlos Jobim and others. The album flows as smooth as a warm Bahian breeze.
The Brazilian ballads stand out the most. "Corcovado (Quiet Nights)" is set up by a quartet of flutes, and Clooney drifts her voice over the swaying rhythm. Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You" becomes a Brazilian torch song in Clooney's rendition. And Clooney knows not to push her voice any further than it will go, instead concentrating on the qualities she still possesses best: delivery and melody.
Pizzarelli, son of jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, is a rising star and versatile jazz guitarist who here strums his nylon-stringed acoustic as sweet as a tropical smoothie. He even adds a nice high tenor vocal croon on several tracks, including a harmonious turn on Jobim's "Wave." Clooney and Pizzarelli work wonderfully in tandem, their similar vocal styles intertwining on duets "Let Go" and "Waters of March."
Diana Krall sings a duet with Clooney on Jobim's "Boy from Ipanema." Krall's hushed delivery and Clooney's bigger tone clash a bit, but it's nice to hear the two generations of jazz singers together, and Krall provides one of her tempered, smooth solos over the lush guitar work of Oscar Castro-Neves.
Other strong performances include the fluid trombone work of Chauncey Welsch and Gary Foster's sweet saxophone solos, where he does his best to pay tribute to the late Stan Getz. Bassist Chuck Berghofer, drummer Jeff Hamilton and pianist John Oddo lay down a solid rhythmic base for the band to build on with each tune. But Clooney's melodic delivery is the real star here. It's an affordable trip down to Brazil that any fan of the bossa nova should take.
Her new album for Concord Records, "Brazil," finds the native of Maysville, Kentucky in good voice, at home with her material and supported by some superior musicians. You really can't ask for much more than that.
Clooney, who marked her 72nd birthday on May 23, sounds stronger on this outing than in the past couple of years. Problems with shortness of breath aren't noticeable. That warm, gorgeous tone and her wise and knowing interpretation of a song lyric have never been more apt.
She's simply a wonderful pop singer who's at home with damned near any kind of song that is thrown at her. In this instance, she's been given a splendid array from the magical works of Antonio Carlos Jobim, whose songs scored on the Hit Parade way back before rock'n'roll had completely changed the music industry.
The new album opens with a lush arrangement of the title song, which was first heard (I think) during Hollywood's Golden Age of the movie musical. Backing Rosemary is a superb group of seven musicians, including guitarist John Pizzarelli and Clooney's long --time pianist and arranger, John Oddo. Gary Foster is heard frequently throughout the album with his excellent tenor sax solos.
One of Jobim's biggest hits, "Corcovado (Quiet Nights)" is given a masterful Clooney treatment. Its simply divine!
Diana Krall, a brilliant jazz vocalist and pianist from Canada, has become one of Rosemary's favorite singers, so its really nice to have them together for this slinky duet on "Boy from Ipanema," another of the Jobim's dazzlers. Rosemary sits out on the fourth track, which spotlights John Pizzarelli's voice and guitar. His handling of "Wave" is excellent.
A Jobim song that I don't recall, "Once I Loved," seems a satisfying and logical choice for Rosemary. John Oddo's arrangement makes the perfect background for Clooney's vibrant voice. Next up is another Jobim chestnut, "Desafinado," which I swear I could hear 50 times in succession and still be mesmerized by its beauty.
Cole Porter's great tune, "I Concentrate On You," is tailor-made for Rosemary and she sounds simply magnificent. Great singer paired with a great singer: what more could anyone ask?
Pizzarelli, whose voice works quite nicely with Rosemary, delivers superb support on their duet of the Jobim winner, "One Note Samba." Pizzarelli gets a few bars to show off his outstanding guitar technique.
Rosemary gives added meaning and intelligence to Jobim's "How Insensitive," accompanied only by Pizzarelli's guitar. Superb! It's followed by a trim arrangement by Dick Lieb of "Let Go," with Pizzarelli contributing his own vocal support and a few succinct guitar licks.
The spotlight again falls on Pizzarelli for "Dindi," co-written by Jobim. His voice works very well, giving a jazz flavor to the material. One of these days, Pizzarelli should move into the high clouds of jazz fame.
Rosemary sounds saucy and Pizzarelli again does a grand job of vocalizing on the Jobim masterpiece, "Water of March." This is 3:13 minutes of delight.
The final Jobim song on the album is "Meditation," which is so appropriate for any singer who has been in show business as long as Rosemary. This is a thoughtful lyric, a distinctive melody, and a fabulous singer meeting and giving listeners goosebumps.
The band gets to step forward on "Sweet Happy Life," which in five minutes playing time hands out solos to five of the musicians. Rosemary returns in the penultimate track with the emotionally touching "A Day in the Life of a Fool."
The final cut consists of a brief reprise of the album opener, "Brazil."
Rosemary Clooney and Brazilian music make for a great combo. The addition of such wondrous musicians as Pizzarelli, Oddo, and Foster make this album a must for any serious fan of pop or jazz music.
This Brazil's greatest hits album is made with such affection and panache that it's all but irresistible. Vocalist Rosemary Clooney, in her autumnal prime and possessing a spot-on feel for the material, teams up with guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli and a superb ensemble led by her pianist, John Oddo, in delivering this love letter to the magical music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luis Bonfa, et al. The familiar tunes--"One Note Samba," "Boy from Ipanema," "Wave," "Dindi," "Corcovado," "Once I Loved," and eight others--get fresh, even surprising interpretations. Take Jobim's "Boy from Ipanema," where Clooney, her voice deepened by time but still resilient and lithe, duets with the exquisitely breathy Diana Krall, who adds gently swinging piano lines. Or that wonderful Ary Barroso standby, "Brazil," done in three tempos: an out-of-time opening with Clooney speak-singing; a very leisurely samba, recalling the 1940s and 1950s; and a brisk bounce, where Pizzarelli plays glowing-toned lines.
The slower tunes have an enchantment all their own. Clooney invests such bittersweet songs as "Corcovado," "Once I Loved," and "Meditation" with lyric readings so wise and informed, you know she's been there. The achingly poignant "How Insensitive," a duet with Pizzarelli, is a heartstopper. The vibrant "Desafinado," perky "One Note Samba," and complex "Waters of March" are among the solid matchups between the voices of Clooney and her guitarist. They each swing in their own manner, and their harmonies make a good blend. Pizzarelli is the featured vocalist on "Wave" and "Dindi" and plays the beamingly upbeat "Sweet Happy Life" (a.k.a. "Samba de Orfeo"). Throughout, first-rate solos from the likes of saxophonists Gary Foster and Nino Tempo and trombonist Chauncey Welsch add vital flavors. If you're a Clooney or traditional Brazilian fan, this is a must-have. --Zan Stewart
Sooner or later, almost every great popular singer has a moment of reckoning with the wistful bossa nova ballads of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Frank Sinatra's albums of Jobim songs were the quietest and arguably the most intimate recordings of his career. And in her latest album, "Brazil" (Concord Jazz), Rosemary Clooney, joined by the guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, applies her warm, earthy stamp to songs like "Quiet Nights," "Desafinado" and "Once I Loved."
Now Ms. Clooney and Mr. Pizzarelli (the star soloist of a fine seven-member band) are at Feinstein's at the Regency (through June 12), performing an abridged version of that album. What these two superb musicians make of the Jobim catalog is a friendly dialogue between opposing points of view. Mr. Pizzarelli, by far the younger of the two, emerges as a bossa nova traditionalist, strumming and crooning a rendition of "Dindi" that almost matches João Gilberto's in seductive romantic beauty.
It is Ms. Clooney who resists the impulse to go with the lyrical flow and swoon in misty reveries. When she sings about romantic dreams nowadays, she assumes a maternal distance, conveying the empathic wisdom of someone who has gotten safely past all that.
At Wednesday's show she commented more than once on once on how sad so many of these Brazilian ballads are. Thus, "Desafinado," done as a duet with Mr. Pizzarelli, became a humorous song about a "slightly out of tune" relationship.
Ms. Clooney capped the set by bringing back a medley she used to perform 30 years ago of "I Cried for You," "Who's Sorry Now?" and "Goody, Goody," all songs that gloat over how the tables have turned on a former lover. The singer pointedly introduced the medley as "the Kentucky point of view on lost love."
The Brazilian songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luis Bonfa, and other prominent bossa nova-era composers draw singers to them like a siren's call. And why not? Their gorgeous melodies, ingenious chord progressions and swaying, sensuous rhythms are unlike any other; in the right hands, these songs just take wings and soar. One of our greatest vocalists, Rosemary Clooney approaches this tropical repertoire with a zest and vigor that belies her age, but with interpretive powers that can only come with experience. She takes on some of the best of the best. Jobim has pride of place with eight classics including "Wave," "Girl From Ipanema," (here called, "The Boy From Ipanema"), "Once I Loved" and "Dindi." The remaining tracks glisten with such gems as, Bonfa's "A Day In the Life of a Fool," Baden Powell's "Let Go," Mendonca's "Desafinado" and Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You" ( Clooney's tribute to Sinatra, who recorded the song on his first collaboration with Jobim). Clooney sounds as fresh and invigorated as usual, but she does have some help from some acclaimed admirers. John Pizzarelli plays fleet and sensitive guitar throughout and duets on a few tunes; Diana Krall joins Clooney for a playful "Boy From Ipanema." The Brazilian sunshine that these special songs bring adds light to this project's every note.
Rosie Clooney: As Good As It Gets
by Rex Reed
Rosemary Clooney singing Brazilian sambas, cool and sad, is a heat quencher that puts lemon in your lemonade. In her new act, Brazil, at Feinsteins at the Regency (through June 10), she is joined by seven ace musicians in a celebration of both the bossa nova and her new CD of the same title on Concord Jazz. Dont expect anything familiar. DeSafinado, one of several dreamy duets she sings with guitarist John Pizzarelli, is musically on target and full of surprises. Even the overexposed One Note Samba, with John singing a warm countermelody, is anything but routine. Once I Loved, taken in her usual unique style, offers poignant lyrics taken in small doses, like sips of wine. Heavily influenced by the legendary albums Sinatra recorded with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Rosie even lifts Franks arrangement of I Concentrate on You because, she insists, it cant be improved, then proceeds to give it her own spin. Straying from the acts theme she interpolates I Cried For You, Whos Sorry Now and Goody, Goody into a gently swinging jam session that stops the show. On her early recordings, her voice may have been younger and springier, but the way Rosie Clooney sings today shows more of lifes experience, while her short breathy line readings lend more of a jazz tempo and heartbreaking lyricism to her polished, durable style. Shes probably tired of all the analysis and flattery shes getting in her autumnal years. My guess is shes just happy to get out there and get off in one piece." But I kid you not. This is as good as it gets, and the gratitude I feel for her uncomplicated, syncopated artistry stretches from Park Avenue to Rio.