At what would be the final concert and recording of her extraordinary life and career in music, Rosemary Clooney's one-of-a-kind voice, perfectly nuanced phrasing, and unmatched interpretation of lyrics remained undiminished. Clearly inspired and energized in this magnificent setting-performing live in Hawaii with Matt Catingub's Big Kahuna and the Copa Cat Pack big band and the Honolulu Symphony Pops--Rosemary delivered an unforgettable live performance, filled with verve, vigor, sensitivity and candor. But then again, that was always her way. From the touching "Sentimental Journey," to an insightful delivery of "They Can't Take That Away from Me," Rosemary Clooney proved once again that she was truly one the greatest interpreters of the great American Songbook. Additionally, in a heartfelt expression of solidarity and patriotism when our nation needed it most (this spellbinding concert performance took place shortly after 9/11), Rosemary delivered a timeless rendition of the American anthem "God Bless America." Rosemary's final concert-preserved here forevermore-is the ultimate keepsake and remembrance from the music icon who will forever be America's favorite "girl singer."
1. Overture: Medley (4:35)
Half As Much (Curley Williams)
Sisters (Irving Berlin)
This Ole House (Stuart Hamblen)
2. Sentimental Journey
(4:14) (Les Brown-Bud Green-Benjamin Homer)
3. Dialogue (1:22)
4. I'm Confessin' That I
Love You (3:45) (Don Dougherty-Al J.
5. Just In Time
(2:58) (Betty Comden-Adolph Green-Jule Styne)
6. Dialogue (:48)
7. Happiness Is A Thing
Called Joe (4:32) (Harold Arlen-E.Y. Harburg)
8. You Go To My Head
(4:45) (Fred J. Coots-Haven Gillespie)
9. Rockin' Chair
(4:08) (Hoagy Carmichael)
11. Ol' Man River
(2:07) (Oscar Hammerstein II-Jerome Kern)
12. The Singer
(2:29) (Joe Cocuzzo-Vincent Falcone)
13. They Can't Take That
Away From Me (3:46) (George Gershwin-Ira Gershwin)
14. God Bless America
(4:11) (Irving Berlin)
If you believe in fate, and I do, you'll understand how this album was made possible.
There had to be an outside force watching over Rosemary. (It wouldn't have been the first time.) Here's what happened: The Honolulu Symphony Pops wanted to get a recording contract. In order for the record company-Concord-to agree to such a large venture, they first wanted to hear what the recordings might sound like. Thanks to the great efforts of the Honolulu Symphony management, and the gracious consent of the orchestra members and local 677 of the AFM, permission was given to record the concerts from the 2001 season-in order to present a "sampler" to the record company.
This also happened to be the year that Rosemary had asked me to book a vacation trip for her, with some family and friends-in Hawaii! I had been her manager for over 20 years, and had been included in many of her special trips. This time she was combining her love of Hawaii with devotion to singing, and Rosemary agreed to sing a couple of concerts with the Big Kahuna Band and the Honolulu Symphony Pops at the end of her vacation.
She loved Hawaii-Some of the Happiest moments of her life were spent in these islands. She discovered paradise in the early '50s and introduced all of her children and grandchildren to Hawaii over five decades. The joy she experienced whenever she was in this incredible setting is clearly expressed in this recording. It is obvious that she loved singing with these 80 musicians, and that they simply adored her. You can hear that in every song-Beginning with "Sentimental Journey"-a title which certainly described this engagement for her. "I'm Confessin'" and "Just in Time" have been dedicated to individuals in the past, but this night, she is singing them intently- for her audience.
She talks about two of her favorite people-Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra-and remembers them with song: "Ol' Man River," "The Singer," and "They Can't Take That Away From Me."
An added bonus to this recording is that we were able to capture Rosemary's dialogue. She was one of the funniest people anyone knew. She was spontaneous, and she could match wits with the best of the performers. Her shows were very conversational-she enjoyed talking to her audience-and those words would reveal her ever warm and affectionate personality.
Again, it was providence that this recording should happen. Rosemary had never before recorded her friend Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." 2001 was the fateful year of 9/11-and Rosemary put the song in her show to honor the victims, to salute the heroes, and to invoke the spirit of all Americans.
America has indeed been blessed with many treasures, and many people count among them- the voice and inspiration of Rosemary Clooney. This album is the result of intervention, perhaps circumstantial, perhaps divine, but in any case, will help to keep the spirit of Rosemary Clooney in our hearts and memories-forever.
ALLEN J. SVIRIDOFF
'Last Concert' May Bring First Grammy
By Jim Bessman, Billboard, Monday, January 12, 2004
The late Rosemary Clooney was nominated for a Grammy Award many times during her illustrious career, yet never won -- much to her chagrin.
"She always wanted a Grammy," Clooney's longtime manager, Allen Sviridoff, says. "But almost every time she was nominated she was in competition with Tony Bennett -- and almost every time, Tony took it away."
Clooney died June 29, 2002, but is up for a Grammy once again with her posthumous release "The Last Concert" (Concord), nominated for best traditional pop vocal album.
Recorded Nov. 16, 2001, in Honolulu with the Honolulu Symphony Pops and the Big Kahuna & the Copa Cat Pack big band, the concert indeed turned out to be Clooney's last major concert performance.
That the album was made, though, was largely due to fate, Sviridoff asserts.
"The Honolulu Symphony Pops wanted an album deal, so we were doing a test recording to show the record company what they sounded like," Sviridoff says.
The Pops was taping its entire 2001 season to submit a representative sampler to the label. Meanwhile, Sviridoff had booked Clooney on a Hawaiian vacation, at the end of which she agreed to sing a couple of concerts.
"We had no intention of making a Clooney record, but it was incredible how beautiful the orchestra played and how beautiful she sang," Sviridoff recounts. "There isn't a fixed vocal because we didn't think to issue it until after she passed -- and we realized that we had her last recording."
But "The Last Concert" is special for its content, too.
"What makes it unique is that it's all live and has wonderful dedications like 'The Singer,' a song for one of her favorite people -- Frank Sinatra -- that her drummer, Joe Cocuzzo, wrote with pianist Vincent Falcone Jr., who also worked with Clooney. And it also has her version of 'God Bless America' -- the epitome of beauty and strength. She sang it a lot, and people always asked her to record it, but she never did, and it's the last song on the album -- recorded two months after 9/11."
The rest of the set, Sviridoff continues, "is really a journey of her life," marked by stage patter "that captures her story and humor -- for she was one of the funniest women on the stage."
In keeping with tradition, Clooney is again up against Bennett, whose "A Wonderful World" album with k.d. lang is nominated, as are Rod Stewart's "As Time Goes By . . . The Great American Songbook: Volume II," Barbra Streisand's "The Movie Album" and, most ironically, Bette Midler's "Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook."
Noting that her career commenced before the Grammy Awards were instituted, Sviridoff recalls Clooney's previous Grammy nomination, for her 2001 album "Sentimental Journey," which also featured Big Kahuna & the Copa Cat Pack. It fell to Bennett's "Playin' With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues" in the traditional pop vocal album category. But that wasn't the worst of it.
"She had gotten bit by a mosquito and got encephalitis and was hospitalized with a 107-degree fever," Sviridoff says. "She was in a coma, but she came out of it during the Grammys and said, 'Do you know what I was dreaming the whole time? That eight Tony Bennetts were standing around me with Grammys in their hands and handing me one."
Sviridoff now dreams that Clooney will finally receive her long-desired and deserved first Grammy win. It should be noted, however, that in 2002, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award honoring "her unique and individual vocal style that combined skillful phrasing, subtle timing and an honest relationship with the lyric, making her one of the great interpreters of the American popular song."
A Postcard from Paradise: Clooney's Swan Song
by Richard Harrington, Washington Post, January 26, 2003
Rosemary Clooney went out much the way she came in: a big, swinging band behind her, an adoring audience before her, a handful of American popular songs waiting to be invested with her trademark warmth and grace. Clooney and her sister Betty had started out in 1947 as the girl singers in the Tony Pastor Band. On a mid-November night in 2001, after more than a half-century of successes, tragedies and triumphant comebacks, Clooney was in a Honolulu concert hall, backed by the Honolulu Symphony Pops and Big Kahuna and the Copa Cat Pack.
Serendipity allowed a recording of this performance. It was the orchestra that was looking for a contract; the concert was a showcase for the Pops, not Clooney, whose acclaimed second career coincided with her 1976 signing to Concord Records.
Clooney graciously agreed to the taping of the show, which turned out to be her last: Soon after, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She died June 29, 2002, at age 74.
"The Last Concert" features no poetic foreshadowing of what's to come, and the program is not even particularly retrospective. An orchestral medley covers Clooney's early years, compressing the lovely "Tenderly" and ubiquitous "White Christmas" with the lesser "Half as Much," "Sisters" and "This Ole House" -- 4˝ minutes of melodic memorabilia. There's no hint of "Come On-a My House," "Mambo Italiano" or the other early novelties Clooney was burdened with and seldom chose to reexamine.
Clooney's first vocal is an invitation to join her on a "Sentimental Journey," but in her hands, the song seems less about renewing "old memories" than setting "my heart at ease." Which is a nutshell description of Rosemary Clooney's charms: a radiant voice given to simple, sincere readings that seeped into the listener's soul. Clooney was blessed with exquisite phrasing, a terrific sense of rhythm, and what Tony Bennett described as "a clear, pure voice filled with warmth and sincerity."
Time and the rough circumstance of Clooney's middle years, when she was beset by doubt, depression and drug dependency, changed her voice. The spry girlish wonder and perfect diction of her youth gave way to a huskier, honey-toned assurance. There was greater depth in Clooney's voice but no late-blooming desire to reinvent her basic strategy: Sing honestly, clearly, fearlessly. Tap into the root and the song will blossom.
Time would, of course, allow for wisdom-imbued interpretations of the Great American Songbook, many of whose contributors were Clooney's peers and pals.
Just listen to the elegant jubilance of "I'm Confessin' That I Love You" and "You Go to My Head," the spry exuberance of "Just in Time," or the mellow testimonial "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe." The last was a favorite of Clooney's first husband, actor Jose Ferrer, a tender love song for the stormless periods in their turbulent marriage.
After "The Singer," a surprisingly maudlin tribute to her pal Frank Sinatra, Clooney gracefully eases into "They Can't Take That Away From Me," by George and Ira Gershwin (the singer would live out her last four decades in Ira and Leonore Gershwin's old Beverly Hills home; Ira remained her next-door neighbor for 20 years).
There's a guilelessness at work here, the kind that led director Mike Nichols to say of Clooney, "She sings like Spencer Tracy acts."
And she swings, too, on Hoagy Carmichael's insouciant "Rockin' Chair," and when, in tribute to mentor/idol/friend Bing Crosby, Clooney embarks on an uncharacteristically bracing romp through "Ol' Man River." When the band kicks the latter off at breakneck pace, Clooney can be heard muttering, "That's a hell of a tempo," but she proves game and sails through with robust energy.
The past is also evoked in anecdotes that Clooney charmed her audience with; they're scattered among the songs, more proof of the easily made personal connections at the heart of Clooney's art.
Clooney's final concert ended with her first-ever recording of "God Bless America," written by yet another mentor, Irving Berlin.
Context elevated the performance then, just two months removed from the horrors of Sept. 11, and does so again when Clooney sings the opening lines of the rarely heard verse: "While the storm clouds gather far across the sea...." There is nothing maudlin or sentimental or jingoistic about the singer's performance, or the audience's heartfelt singalong. And maybe it's poetically appropriate that Rosemary Clooney's last song featured accompaniment by a choir of her fans.
To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at
202-334-9000 and press 8151.
Rosemary Clooney: The Last Concert
by Matt Schudel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, January 10, 2003
In her affable between-songs banter on this live recording, Rosemary Clooney comments about Bing Crosby that "sometimes people forgot just how good a singer he was." Well, the same can be said about her. She was a huge star in the 1950s, but not everyone realizes what a superb vocalist she became in her later years, when she distilled her singing into her own subtle brand of musical magic.
All the magic was still there in this final album, recorded in Hawaii on Nov. 16, 2001. It's a remarkable effort on any level, made all the more touching because it turned out to be her farewell statement, recorded barely seven months before she died of lung cancer at 74. Most of the tunes here are well-worn standards, but Rosie treats them with simplicity and respect, giving them a spin that is all her own. She even manages to make God Bless America -- this was two months after Sept. 11 -- sound fresh and heartfelt.
A jazz band and full orchestra provide a warm musical cushion that allows Rosie to burnish her songs with a gentle radiance. She slows I'm Confessin' That I Love You from its usual jumping pace to something more poignant and revealing. She gives a buoyant swing to Just in Time, then slows down for a tender reading of Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe and an elegant You Go to My Head. One of her finest efforts comes on They Can't Take That Away From Me, which she shapes with dramatic flair.
Throughout the album's 10 songs, her voice is
strong, her intonation flawless, interpretations smart. She's having
a wonderful time, complimenting the band and even humming along with
the arrangements. At the end of the concert, she tells her audience,
"Thank you for one of the best nights of my life." Thank
you, Rosie, for being one of the best singers of all our lives.
Reviewed by Chris Willman for Entertainment Weekly
Final testaments don't get much more satisfying than this 2001 Honolulu gig that ended up being the 73-year-old ''girl singer's'' swan song. (It was surreptitious and serendipitous; Clooney, whose last live album was in '56, was unaware the tape was rolling.) Avoiding ''Come On-a My House'' in favor of Hoagy Carmichael's ''Rocking Chair'' and other lively tunes that resonate with experience, Clooney sounds as if her lower range was the one she'd always worked with. You won't know whether to feel relieved or angry that she left us before getting a chance to diminish.
POWERSOUND: "Rosemary's Last Concert"
by Bob Powers
When Rosemary Clooney lost her fight with lung cancer at the end of June, no one knew that another album existed. Now that album, "The Last Concert" (Concord Records) has been released. It provides a fitting goodbye to one of the most charming and talented singers in the history of show business.
Rosemary grew up Maysville, Ky., near the banks of the mighty Ohio River. She and her sister Betty were hired to perform on the powerful radio station, WLW, and those shows proved to be their gateway to show business. They toured with popular bandleader Tony Pastor, but Betty grew tired of the touring required of musicians and went back home.
Rosemary, possessing one of the most distinctive and warm voices of the twentieth century, became a best-selling solo act, which led to a career in motion pictures. Her role in "White Christmas" became one of the best musicals Hollywood ever produced. She shared screen time with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen. The nation packed theaters from one coast to the other and the film continues to enjoy popularity in its life as a video.
Executives of Rosemary's longtime record company, Concord, learned a short time after her death in June that her singing appearance on Nov. 16, 2001 with the Honolulu Symphony and Matt Catingub's spectacular jazz band had been recorded.. It didn't take long for Concord to make arrangements to release that tape as Rosemary's final album.
"The Last Concert" contains more than three minutes of Rosemary talking to the audience, which apparently adored her every word. That night her voice rang with utmost clarity and touching emotion. Her final comment: "This is one of the great nights of my life." If you're an admirer of Rosemary Clooney and can listen to that comment without tears, you're a much better person than yours truly.
This concert seems flawless. Longtime followers know that Rosemary's voice wavered with the advancing years, although she became good at disguising how she couldn't sustain notes as well but she added the experience of her years to demonstrate depth and understanding. No one will ever be more kind to a song's words.
My single complaint with this album is the knowledge that there will probably be no more. Concord was Rosemary's recording home for more than two decades and has received deserved credit for reviving her career. She produced a long list of recordings that will stand as a testament to a woman who was not only a great pop singer, but also one of the most charming and friendly persons I've ever met from the ranks of show business.
The concert contains a group of wonderful songs, delivered with the special Clooney touch. You can't get better than that. How's this for a lineup of musical gems: "Sentimental Journey," "I'm Confess'n That I Love You," "Just in Time," "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe," "You Go to My Head," "Rockin' Chair," Ol' Man River," "The Singer," "They Can't Take That Away From Me." And (in honor of the victims of Sept. 11, 2001) she closed the show with a magnificent "God Bless America."
God Bless Rosemary Clooney. We'll not see her like again.
Oldies From Rosemary
Concord Records, bless their collective hearts, has frequently released material from its vaults as a two-fer, in other words two CDs for about the price of one. As a way to convince those who haven't been acquainted with Rosemary Clooney in the past, the company has packaged together two albums under the collection title of "Rosemary Clooney Sings Arlen and Berlin."
These titles originally were released in 1983 ("Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Harold Arlen,") and 1984 ("Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Irving Berlin.") Both discs have memorable songs from Tin Pan Alley's best, delivered by Rosemary in a lively manner.
The accompanying musicians were some of Hollywood's finest, including pianist Dave McKenna and tenor sax sensation Scott Hamilton, whose distinctive horn can be heard on both CD's.
The second album apparently was the first to spotlight John Oddo on piano. He is a master of the light touch school of jazz, never extending himself while playing just the proper notes in a swinging, knowledgeable manner. He's simply wonderful and any album containing his work can be counted as a winner.
Song selection for the two CDs demonstrates Rosemary's wise way with great songs of the past. Arlen and Berlin rank at the top of the heap when it comes to writing songs of romance with equal dollops of charm and sentiment. Rosemary never sang a lyric she didn't understand and improve (not change) with her delivery.
This package should keep listeners smiling for years to come.
Rosemary, you were the absolute best of them all.
Rosemary Clooney: The Last Concert
~ Jim Santella
In Honolulu, with a huge orchestra honoring her with their lush support, Rosemary Clooney performed for an equally vast audience at the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall. Her latest album, Sentimental Journey, had just been released. Communicating with her audience on several levels, “The Girl Singer” presents songs from her recent album along with a few surprises. Her dialogue with the audience is captured in its entirety, which makes this album quite special. Matt Catingub’s big band and the Honolulu Symphony Pops Orchestra are impeccable. Clooney sounds good. Her unique phrasing, her relaxed sense of swing, and her smiling vocal timbre pervade the performance. The album concludes with a patriotic moment that stands tall in service to everything that Rosemary Clooney stood for. Persuading the audience to join her in song, she’s able to reveal, in “God Bless America,” the independent spirit that carried her from Maysville, Kentucky at age 16 through numerous recording contracts, a nurturing family existence that found her raising five children, dedicated service to the television and motion picture industry, and countless successful hits that overwhelmed a worldwide audience. Now that she’s gone, we find it inevitable that we miss her; but a recording such as this one makes it a bit easier to understand.
Rosie Clooney great as ever in final concert
Rosemary Clooney "The Last Concert" (Concord Records)
by Owen McNally, Hartford Courant, December 19, 2002
This release is a sad event because it marks Rosemary Clooney's final recorded performance, just eight months before her death last summer from lung cancer at age 74.
The great, unpretentious singer sang her final recorded bars Nov. 16, 2001, a dark period in our history little more than two months after the Sept. 11 attacks on America.
Despite Clooney's feelings about her own impending fate and the horrific tragedy of Sept. 11, her performance generates a spirit of hope and celebration of life. Her strength as a singer for all seasons is no better exemplified than in her moving grand finale rendition of "God Bless America." There couldn't have been a dry eye in the house when she sang Irving Berlin's classic ode to America with the Honolulu Symphony Pops. Especially when the audience, with almost choir-like skill and fervor, joins her for a deeply felt final chorus.
Whatever physical limitations Clooney had to endure so late in her life are never once apparent. There are no sad swan songs here. Just before launching into "Ol' Man River," she says, in a humorous aside to her audience, "It's a helluva tempo." Despite her mini-caveat, she sails through the riptide tempo with high style and robust vitality.
Ease, simplicity and clarity were Clooney's hallmark qualities. Here she brings these gifts to bear on such standards as "Sentimental Journey," "I'm Confessin' That I Love You," and "They Can't Take That Away from Me."
Right to the very end of her long, distinguished career, she was a helluva singer at any tempo.
THE LAST CONCERT by Rex Reed
"Rosemary Clooney: The Last Concert" (Concord) says it all.
This is the final legacy of one of the most beloved singers in history, recorded "live" with the Honolulu Symphony shortly after the life-altering events of 9/11. As cherished as many of her albums have been, this is the one that best captures the special mixture of "in person" warmth, humor, spirit and heart you could only experience when you saw Rosie on a stage, surrounded by ace musicians and loving fans. Any stage, large or small, it didn't matter. The chemistry between her singing and the legions of people who came to hear her was a rare feeling few performers know. It's all here -- the salty Irish charm, the sincere phrasing, the intimacy of the patter, the perfection of the musical timing. "You Go to My Head" is mesmerizing, Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair" swings like never before, and "The Singer," her special tribute to Sinatra, has a strangely moving effect, as though Ol' Blue Eyes actually had a tender side hidden beneath his swagger and fame. The highlight is the rousing finale. It's Rosie's first-ever recording of Irving Berlin's deeply patriotic "God Bless America" that brings her audience to their feet, singing along with the 80-piece orchestra with a passion that is anything but sentimental. It was added at the last minute to honor the victims, heroes and survivors of 9/11, but in an overwhelming way it salutes the memory of Rosie herself. Despite so much evidence to the contrary, God put some terrific people on this earth, and one of them was Rosemary Clooney. "The Last Concert" is the best goodbye imaginable. Buy this one and weep, for all the right reasons.
Review from JAZZREVIEW.COM
Reviewed by: Lee Prosser
For Rosemary Clooney fans who loved her jazz vocals and work with the Big Bands, this last concert will be a must-have for the home library collection. Clooney is in top form in this collection of songs, and her voice is beautifully showcased by the guest artists performing alongside her such as Matt Catinug on alto saxophone and piano, Hung Wu on violin, Gregory Dubay on cello, Laurel Hall on clarinet, Michael Zonshine on trumpet, James T. Decker on trombone, and many others.
There are 14 songs in the collection. Among the songs featured are "Sentimental Journey," "I'm Confessin' That I Love You," one of the very finest renditions of "Just In Time," "Happiness Is A Thing Called Love," "You Go To My Head," "Rockin' Chair," "Ol' Man River," "The Singer," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," and "God Bless America." There are also short dialogue sections which the jazz fans of Rosemary Clooney will enjoy.
You will be in for a splendid treat with this last concert, and it will enchant you with the solid singing that is the hallmark of Rosemary Clooney. Clooney is pure magic on THE LAST CONCERT, and her magical singing will captivate the listening audience with its clearness, sensitivity, and style.
For those who love jazz, please pick up a copy of Rosemary Clooney's THE LAST CONCERT. Highly recommended.
Clooney disc a fine finale to career
By Randy Cordova, The Arizona Republic
Nov. 15, 2002
A lucky few singers get better with age. Rosemary Clooney was one of them.
The Last Concert, which will be in stores Tuesday, is a recording of the beloved singer's last public performance. The show was held Nov. 16, 2001, eight months before her death.
Like most of her latter-day albums, it reveals a singer at the peak of her powers. She had a commanding sense of rhythm and a clear, crisp delivery. Most importantly, she invested everything she sang with enormous amounts of heart and warmth. It's easy to fall in love with her voice.
More than a souvenir from a great live show, The Last Concert is a fitting epitaph for a classic performer. Recorded with the Honolulu Symphony Pops and Matt Catingub's Copa Cat Pack swing outfit, it's a solid, energetic outing.
It's hard to believe Clooney was 73 when the recording was made, especially after hearing her romp through a lightning-fast Ol' Man River.
"It's a hell of a tempo," she remarks before starting the tune. It's not difficult to imagine the breathless pace scaring off lesser singers, but not Clooney.
She's at her bluesy best on a stirring version of Hoagy Carmichael's Rockin' Chair. The John Oddo arrangement swings with a graceful punch, and Clooney's out front, swinging along, strong and sassy. Same thing with a rollicking Just in Time, which bounces with a playful exuberance. She sounds as if she's having a blast, and so is the audience.
It's especially nice hearing Clooney interact with the crowd. She had an engaging sense of humor. If it's scripted patter, it sure doesn't sound like it. Before one song, she points out her husband in the crowd - "He has to clap," she deadpans.
The disc doesn't work if you're looking for a Clooney retrospective. None of her hit songs from the '50s is here - there's no Come On-a My House, no Mambo Italiano, no Hey There. An instrumental overture includes five of her standards, but it's not the same as hearing her lovingly croon Tenderly.
On the other hand, everything she did on this night spelled class, with I'm Confessin' That I Love You, They Can't Take That Away From Me and Happiness is a Thing Called Joe among her selections.
Recorded just two months after Sept. 11, she also performs a heartfelt God Bless America.
At the end of the recording, she tells the crowd, "Thank you for one of the best nights of my life." A lot of people in the audience probably felt the same.
Clooney's music, spirit echo on
At a listening party, a CD of the late singer's final concert is played. Merv Griffin announces a tribute to raise funds for lung disease research.
By Ann Conway - Los Angeles Times Staff Writer - November 12, 2002
Hearing the husky voice, the tender lyrics, Monsita Botwick pulled a white handkerchief from her beaded handbag and dabbed her eyes. "We'll get through it," whispered her sister, Maria Murdock. "I'm going to pretend like I'm not even hearing this right now." The tune was "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe," a number their mother, the late Rosemary Clooney, loved to sing for their father, Jose Ferrer. And here was the pop legend's warm and loving version of it, filling a private room at Trader Vic's at the Beverly Hilton Hotel during a listening party for Clooney's new album, "The Last Concert." "This night is horrible and wonderful. I never wanted this day to come," Botwick said. "Yet this CD is fantastic, and I am so proud of it."
About 50 guests, including Clooney's sons, Gabriel and Rafael Ferrer, and her close friends Michael Feinstein and Merv Griffin, gathered in the tropical-themed haunt last week to share old memories and hear selections from her performance with the Honolulu Symphony Pops. "It was our incredible luck to have captured it," Concord Records President Glen A. Barros said of last November's concert on Oahu. "We couldn't have known that the symphony demo being recorded that night would turn into Rosemary's last concert." Clooney died in June of complications from lung cancer at age 74.
Enjoying cocktails and island-inspired appetizers, partygoers relaxed on cushy banquettes or stood in small groups as they shared tales such as the one recounted by Gabriel Ferrer, as he introduced his mother's only recording of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." "I remember every once in a while Mr. Berlin would call the house [on North Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills] when I was about 14 or 15, and I would think it was some goofball and ask, 'Mr. Berlin, as in Irving?' And my mom, from her den chair, would scream, 'Give me the phone!' "
Griffin recalled the first night he met the singer, who found fame in 1951 with the novelty hit "Come On-a My House" and in recent years had appeared at top-notch cabaret clubs and concert stages. "It was probably the late '40s, and I met her at Virginia Beach, Va. I was singing with the Freddy Martin band and she and her sister, Betty, were singing with Tony Pastor's big band. I introduced myself and we had a great time. At the end of the evening, her entire band walked into the ocean with their clothes on. I said, 'Rosie, you've really got yourself a band!' "
Clooney was his "second mother," said Feinstein, a pianist and singer known for his lush treatment of standards. "When I made my first recording, I was nervous about it and asked if she would sing with me. She came to the studio, gave me some coaching. Her style was confident, witty, sexy, but mostly heartfelt. She was always connected to her heart when she sang, and I think that's what made her a star."
Also on the party agenda: the announcement by Griffin of a memorial tribute to the singer on Dec. 10 at his Beverly Hilton Hotel to benefit the Mayo Clinic Rosemary Clooney Pulmonary Research Fund. "She was at Mayo Clinic for four months and they were so wonderful to her that she wanted to do something for people who are afflicted with lung disorders," Murdock explained.
"It will be one of the great nights, with Tony Bennett, George Clooney, Diana Krall, Keely Smith, Linda Ronstadt, Debby Boone and more," Griffin told the crowd. "And I know Rosie will be there watching and loving every second of it."
ROSIE'S VOICE LIVES ON
Liz Smith - November 10, 2002
GO TO your record store and get "Rosemary Clooney: The Last Concert." Recorded last year, it is the late singer's first and only live CD. She sings a husky "They Can't Take That Away From Me." And "they" can't take Rosie away from us, as long as we have this and all her other remarkable recordings.
The Last Concert: A Review
by Kathy Brown
I've just finished the first listen of Rosemary's Last Concert CD. Here are my reactions as one who was in attendance at this recording:
I'm so filled, so thrilled, so glad, so amazed, and so convinced. Filled with so many emotions, thrilled that we have this recording, glad that Concord has seen fit to release it, amazed that the last recording of this woman's amazing career is as good as anything she has ever released and convinced that I've been right all along, she really is the greatest "girl singer" ever and the premier interpreter of the Great American Songbook.
The CD opens with a Medley that Matt put together of songs identified with Rosemary. They are beautiful, lush arrangements of "Tenderly," "White Christmas" "Half as Much" "Sisters" and "This Ole House." The Copa Cat Pack and the Honolulu Pops Orchestra together make for a wonderful sound. I would love a whole CD of just their instrumentals of Rosemary's hits.
Track 2, is "Sentimental Journey." If you saw Rosemary in concert in the last year or two, you know she made her entrance on Dante's arm to the band playing a lead-in to this. Once she takes center stage, she introduces Dante and says "that's my husband...he has to clap" as the audience warmly welcomes them both to the stage. She says that "the first time I played here was the night Hawaii became a state and I'm back by popular demand," to which she gets laughter and deadpans, "it took a while folks!" The most touching part of this song, is the ending, when she sings "Sentimental Jo-our-ney" and almost speaks the last word..."HOME."
Next she talks about what a good time she's having and how she'd like to work here (in Hawaii) all the time, but she'd need a real good paying job, as she has a big family, which is her sequi into talking about Nick and Nina, and then making a couple of jokes, one about George and one about her age.
"I'm Confessin' That I Love You," is simply touching. You know she means what she's singing and she wants to convince you of it. I'm not sure what it is that she does with this line near the end, but it's powerful..."I'm confessin that I love you, all over again." And no one would doubt her, after hearing her sing, "Honest I do. I really love you. You know that I do." Is she "talking to me?"
Always so appreciative of the affection of her audience, you will hear her say thank you a couple of times throughout the concert.
"Just In Time" is the next track. The horns are really strong on this one, as is Rosemary. She was in such a groove and so confident, as she always was when she shared the stage with the Big Kahuna and the Copa Cat Pack. Their energy fueled her. For years I've read reviewers talk about the colors of someone's voice, it wasn't until I listened to this number that I understood what they meant. You hear them in this number. I don't think anyone who knows Rosemary's story can listen to this one and not think..."Oh Dante, Dante, Dante. I'm so glad she had Dante!!"
The sixth track is some dialogue about being with the band and how reminiscient it is for her of those days when she and Betty were so young and with Tony's band. She throws in a little joke on herself and then introduces the next track by saying she has warm memories of it from the first time she heard it in "Cabin in the Sky."
Track 7 is "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe." She recorded this track before, most recently on "Sentimental Journey." It's very evident in this one that there was a real energy in performing live for her. You can hear it, there's a difference between this and the previous recordings that were done in a studio. The arrangement has that feel of big band swing. You can hear her appreciation for the musicians after their solos, most notably after Matt's when she says, "you're so good." She compliments the whole band when it's over, as they do such a superb job.
Track 8 is "You Go to My Head." I love this song because during the instrumentals you can hear Rosemary doing her, "dee da dahs." When Rosemary was feeling really good there was a distinctive lightness in her voice. Well it's definitely here on this CD and very noticeable on this number as it is so effective in helping her to communicate this particular song's message. It really is wonderful music, and when it's over she says, "that's nice" and thanks Matt for the beautiful arrangment.
Next is "Rockin Chair" which she nails. The audience definitely thinks so, and she responds "you're a wonderful audience."
Track 10 is dialoge about Bing and her time touring with him, which leads into a number that he used to do, "Ol' Man River." As Matt gets the band going, you hear Rosemary saying "it's a helluva tempo." When it's over, she says, "such fun to do." I think this one is a challenge for her, the band thinks she can do it, their music cheers her on, and she achieves great success!! It is as much fun for the audience to listen to it, as I'm sure it was for them to perform.
Track 12 gets an introduction with Rosemary telling the audience that it was written by an unlikely person, Joe Cocuzzo, her drummer for years. I love this song, always loved listening to her perform it. In this recording, it's just Rosemary and Matt on the piano (could do with a whole CD of just her and the ivories). She reaches deep into your heart and touches you with this one. There's no doubt when you listen to her singing every note, dead on, with pitch perfect, and timing impeccable...this lady had it...had it til the end...damn good girl singer...damn good!!
12 leads directly into 13, which is "They Can't Take That Away From Me." This arrangement is so swinging, so sexy, so sensual, so suggestive...I know, folks are saying, but she's a 73 year old married Grandma, well she was a sexy, swingin, sensual Grandma...who must have had some awesome memories!! Dan's bass is awesome on this!
The last track will most likely get the most written about it, as this is the first time she recorded "God Bless America." I was fortunate to hear Rosemary do this with Cincinnat Pops for the PBS July 4th from the Heartland Special. It was magnificient that night, as it was the several times I saw her perform it after 9/11. She stresses every word of the verse. You've heard it said about her before, that when you listen to her sing a song, it is as if it is the first time you've ever heard it. Well I think it's true with this song. We get so caught up in it being an anthem...when really it is a prayer..."while the storm clouds gather, far across the sea, let us swear allegiance to a land that's free, let us all be grateful, for a land so fair, as we raise our voices, in a solemn prayer, God Bless America, land that I love." When you hear her sing those words, "land that I love," you know she means them. I remember when I saw her in Evansville, Indiana, just days after 9/11 when others were canceling performances, she was a trooper, going on with the show, believing it was the right thing to do, that the music could be healing, that maybe she could provide something helpful, and without a doubt, that she lived in a land that she loved. After she finishes the first chorus, she says to the audience, "sing with me the chorus, you know the words."
I think this audience participation at the end, which sounds as good as an choir you've ever heard, confirms that this was an evening which was annointed. It was meant to be. It was perfect. The last words you hear her say are, "thank you for one of the best nights of my life." Well my angel Rosemary, thank you for one of the best nights of my life, I will forever be grateful to have been in that audience, to have been a part of a glorious evening.
I'm so happy that so many elements came together on this magnificient evening. She had her brother and sister-in-law in the audience, she was in a paradise that she loved so much, she was being backed by a band that sparked warm and wonderful memories for her of days with her sister Betty, she was singing songs she loved, many arranged by her musical angel John Oddo, and she was feeling really good and singing in top form...AND it was all caught on tape!!
I took many pictures the night of this concert, as I did at most of Rosemary's performances. I don't think it was coincidence, that the only one that turned out has Rosemary looking heavenward. Maybe it was telling, but mostly I think she was just saying, "Thank You God for a lovely ride!!"
I'm so glad to have been along for a small part of it!
I miss her.
Tape of Rosemary Clooney's last concert discovered
REUTERS - Oct. 16 - — By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A newly discovered recording of Rosemary Clooney's last public performance, taped without her knowledge seven months before her death, will be released next month, the Concord Records label said on Wednesday.
The independent jazz label, which counted Clooney as among its major artists, was unaware the recording existed until the singer's longtime manager, Allen Sviridoff, surprised Concord executives with tapes of the performance in August, about two months after she died.
The recording was made by the Honolulu Symphony Pops, which taped her performance with the orchestra last Nov. 16 as part of a series of demo tapes the symphony was making at the time, said Concord executive vice president John Burk.
"As it turns out, this show for Rosemary was one of the best performances she had done. It was just one of those magical moments that came together," Burk told Reuters in a telephone interview. "No one knew it would be her last show."
Ironically, he said, Clooney never knew the concert had been recorded.
News of the posthumous album, titled "The Last Concert," surfaced as family and friends announced plans for an all-star gala tribute to the singer featuring her movie-star nephew, George Clooney, and hosted by old friend Merv Griffin.
"The Last Concert" marks the first live recording the veteran singer made in 45 years, and the only one in her career besides her 1956 LP, "On Stage (Live)," released by Columbia Records, according to Burk.
In addition to an instrumental overture by the orchestra, the new album features 10 tracks, including the songs "Sentimental Journey," "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe," "Ol' Man River" and "You Can't Take That Away from Me."
Burk said her rousing rendition of "God Bless America" was an emotional highlight of the concert, which was held barely two months after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
The recording, to be issued on Nov. 19, also captures Clooney's on-stage banter and a poignant farewell to the audience, as she says, "Thank you for one of the best nights of my life."
At the time, Clooney was promoting her album "Sentimental Journey," a collection of new recording released last August. She recorded nearly 30 LPs on the Concord label since her acclaimed comeback 1977 album "Everything's Coming Up Rosie."
Clooney, who was twice married to actor Jose Ferrer, died June 29 at age 74 due to complications from lung cancer.
She shot to fame with a string of hits in the 1950s, including the novelty songs "Come On-A My House" and "Mambo Italiano" and co-starred opposite Bing Crosby in the 1954 film classic "White Christmas."
After virtually quitting music during a troubled period in the late 1960s, she reemerged in the late 1970s and 1980s, endearing herself to a new generation of music fans and landing a guest role as a singing Alzheimer's patient on the hospital drama "ER," opposite her nephew.
Talent booked for the upcoming memorial tribute to Clooney, to be held Dec. 10 at Griffin's Beverly Hilton Hotel, includes veteran vocalist Tony Bennett, jazz stylist Diana Krall, pop-gospel singer Debby Boone and rock star Linda Ronstadt.
Clooney worked until months before her death
BBC News - Thursday, 17 October, 2002
A previously unknown recording of the late Rosemary Clooney is to be released in November.
The announcement came as preparations were being made for a gala commemoration of the jazz singer, who died in June.
Clooney's last public performance was taped without her knowledge - and until recently even her record company Concord did not know of the recording.
The singer's longtime manager, Allen Sviridoff, surprised Concord executives with tapes of the performance in August, some two months after she died.
The recording was made on 16 November 2001 when she appeared with the Honolulu Symphony Pops.
Concord executive vice president John Burk said the tape was one of a series of demo recordings the symphony orchestra was making at the time.
"As it turns out, this show for Rosemary was one of the best performances she had done.
"It was just one of those magical moments that came together - no one knew it would be her last show," said Mr Burk.
The new CD, The Last Concert, is only the second live album in the singer's career and includes the songs Sentimental Journey, Ol' Man River and You Can't Take That Away from Me.
A star-studded gala tribute to Clooney is to be held on 10 December at Griffin's Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
Stars lined up to perform include vocalists Tony Bennett, Diana Krall and Linda Ronstadt.
Clooney, who was twice married to actor Jose Ferrer, died on 29 June at 74, after complications from lung cancer.
Her fame began in the 1950s when a string of hits included Come On-A My House and Mambo Italiano.
She re-emerged on the jazz scene in the late 1970s and 1980s, and found new fans after landing a guest role as a singing Alzheimer's patient on the hospital drama ER, opposite her nephew, actor George Clooney.
Honolulu Pops gets its first CD
Howard Dicus Pacific Business News October 17, 2002
The Honolulu Symphony Pops will be heard on a commercial CD release for the first time, the orchestra announced Wednesday.
The Concord Jazz label, for which Pops conductor Matt Catingub records, is releasing a live concert recording of Rosemary Clooney with the Pops orchestra and Catingub's own band. They performed together a year ago and it was Clooney's last public concert. She died in June.
The release is possible because the musicians allowed the recording of concerts, with the understanding that they would be paid regular musician's union scale for any recording released. That paid off for the musicians economically, and for everyone artistically, since it meant a recording of Clooney that otherwise would not exist.
Catingub said other CDs are possible, either from other concert recordings already made or from concerts still to come. But since it costs Concord anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 to make a recording, depending on the number of musicians and other factors, much will depend on how the Clooney CD sells.
Big Kahuna And The Copa Cat Pack :
Honolulu Symphony Orchestra:
* on leave
Produced by: Allen Sviridoff
Associate Producer: Matt Catingub
Executive Producers: Glen Barros and John Burk
Recorded live on November 16, 2001 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall, Honolulu, Hawaii
Mixed by Leslie Ann Jones and Matt Catingub at Skywalker Sound, Marin County
Assistant engineers: Dann Thompson and Juan Peralta
Editing: Andre Zweers
Mastered at G studio, November 10, 2002 by Seth Presant
Production Manager: Valerie Whitesell
Art Direction: Jill Simonsen
Cover Photograph by Kathy Brown
The cover photograph of Rosemary Clooney was taken at the concert on November 16, 2001 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Local Production Credits:
Location Recording: Rick Ames & Mike Brown of Arayembe Audio Services
Additional Recording / Live Sound Engineer: Jim Mancuso
Location sound and additional recording equipment: Chris Waidzunas & John Kendrick of Hawaii Pro Sound and Video Rentals.
HSO Stage Manager: Kenji Stevens
HSO Artist Coordinator: Kristin Jackson
Additional Honolulu Symphony Orchestra Credits:
Musicians of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra are members of the Musicians' Association of Hawaii, Local 677, and the American Federation of Musicians.
Stagehands in Honolulu are members of International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 665.
Rosemary Clooney is represented by:
P.O. Box 16820
Encino, CA, 91416-6820
Phone: (818) 594-4913
Fax: (818) 594-0964
Also hear Rosemary Clooney on:
Sentimental Journey-The Girl Singer and Her New Big Band, CCD-4952-2
The Songbook Collection (6-CD Set), CCD6-4933-2
Brazil, CCD-4884-2 (with John Pizzarelli)
Songs From the Girl Singer, A Musical Autobiography (2-CD Set), CCD2-4870-2
At Long Last, CCD-4795-2 (with the Count Basie Orchestra)
Mothers & Daughters, CCD-4754-2
Dedicated to Nelson, CCD-4685
For the Duration, CCD-4444
Concord Records, Inc.
100 North Crescent Drive, Suite 275
Beverly Hills, CA 90210