In May of 2016, while I was thinking about putting a new show together, Deb Berman called and very excitedly said she had an idea. “How about doing a show celebrating the music of Ann Hampton Callaway?”
While still being a cabaret neophyte, I wasn’t at all sure I was up to it. Being a fan of Ann’s music and lyrics for quite some time, I knew the challenges involved. Her music is smart, technically accomplished; her lyrics rich and multi-dimensional. But as Ann says in one of her original songs, “take the time to listen and feel”. And the more I let my ‘inner noise’ quiet down and began to live with the idea, the more thrilled I became. After much discussion, and under Deb’s insightful direction, we had a show! The first task—how to make Ann’s music my own? As a singer and interpreter she is in a class by herself, all but unapproachable in jazz improvisation, with an instrument that can shade any passage with infinite nuances. Working with my musical director, John Cook, we came up with arrangements for that show and, now, for this album that enabled me to put my own signature on ten of Ann’s original songs, in addition to standards from the American Songbook that she’s recorded throughout the years.
My gratitude? It’s endless…where to begin?
First of all, to my dear friend and director, Deb Berman, who handed me an awesome project on a silver platter. Seldom do you walk into a first meeting where your entire show is virtually done for you. Thanks for the roadmap and all of your support, Deb!
To the band, Dave Pietro, who’s sultry and silky saxophone made good tracks into perfection… Todd Isler’s subtle percussion that gave form and structure where we needed it most… Sean Harkness, who conjured up the most delicious harmonic invention on the spot…Laura Intravia, whose sumptuous flute caresses the ear like velvet…Tom Hubbard, for his enormous contribution of rock solid musicianship, along with an endearing personal manner that made every day in the studio a pure joy.
To Sean Swinney, our sound engineer, who in addition to giving us his consummate expertise took an active personal interest in making this project the best it could be.
To John M. Cook, my music director, whose brilliant arrangements and dazzling accompaniments make every collaboration pure magic. Your friendship, encouragement, and never-ending faith in my ability mean the world to me.
And, lastly, to Ann Hampton Callaway…for your unsurpassed generosity of time and spirit. Your open heart and ability to inspire are without equal.
Photos by Bill Westmoreland