The trio of album reviews takes in Bonnie Langford – Jazz at the Theatre, Laura Osnes – If I Tell You (The Songs of Maury Yeston) and Renée & Bryn: Under the Stars
“Who would think it astounds us
Simply naming their names?”
Who doesn’t love a bit of Bonnie Langford? Her 2003 album Jazz at the Theatre does exactly what it says on the tin, mixing the worlds of musical theatre and jazz to great effect. So bossa nova rhythms drive Cy Coleman’s ‘Use What You Got’ from The Life, pacey bass-driven romp through ‘If I Were A Bell’ from Guys and Dolls, and there’s a delicate skip through Fiddler’s ‘Sunrise, Sunset’.
Sondheim and Lloyd Webber get their name checked with tender takes on ‘Sooner or Later’ and ‘Unexpected Song’ and I loved the straight rendition of Me and My Girl’s ‘Once You Lose Your Heart’. Throughout are sprinkled standards like ‘Old Devil Moon’ and ‘My Funny Valentine’ which also work well but the less said about this version of ‘God Bless the Child’ the better though…
Who doesn’t also love Laura Osnes? This sweetest of singers had the privilege of recording the first solo album of Maury Yeston songs with If I Tell You (The Songs of Maury Yeston) and the marriage is a great one. Just listen to the delicate beauty of ‘New Words’ from In The Beginning, almost too wonderful for this world. Almost as touching are the inclusions from the song cycle December Songs, a gorgeous musicality flowing between composer and performer and captured for us all to relish.
Renée Fleming and Bryn Terfel’s collaboration on Renée & Bryn: Under the Stars is a natural one and one which pays dividends in its treatment of some classic musical theatre songs. Whether together, as on Sweeney Todd’s ‘Not While I’m Around’ or The Phantom of the Opera’s ‘All I Ask Of You’, or apart as on Fleming’s sensational ‘Moonfall’ from The Mystery of Edwin Drood or Terfel’s swaggering ‘Pretty Women’. Arrangements sound great from Paul Gemignani and the Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera and the magical quality of Fleming’s voice make this well worth a listen.