Somebody Come and Play
CD Play List
Richard Everitt, Laurence Stith
I Have Dreamed / We Kiss in a Shadow
Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers
Somebody Come and Play
Mark Carlsen, bass
Mike Monaghan, soprano saxophone
My One and Only Love
Guy Wood, Robert Mellin
Come Back to Me
Alan Jay Lerner, Burton Lane
John Baboian, guitar
Ask Me Again
George & Ira Gershwin
Wait Till You See Her / A Ride on a Rainbow
Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart
Jule Styne, Leo Robin
Dave Burdett, flugel horn
You’d Better Love Me
Hugh Martin, Timothy Gray
Mike Monaghan, tenor saxophone
I’m Glad There Is You
Paul Madeira, Jimmy Dorsey
Kenny Wenzel, trombone
When Sunny Gets Blue
M. Fisher, J. Segal
Comes Once in a Lifetime / Take the Moment
Jule Styne, Betty Comden
Adolph Green, Richard Rodgers
John Baboian, guitar
Sammy Cahn, James Van Heusen
All selections arranged and conducted by Tom LaMark
Occasionally, you come across a singer with a voice like fine wine and the skill with which to use it. Occasionally, you come across a singer who knows the meaning and the value of a well-written lyric, and can convey that message as if it were her own. But on far fewer occasions, do you come across a singer who can do both in perfect balance, never allowing one skill to eclipse the other. Add to the mix a sharp, mildly self-deprecating, on-target sense of humor, and you have that rare performer who is a triple threat. Meet Jan Peters.
In the smoky piano bars of Boston that have been her domain, I have seen Peters tame a rambunctious room full of patrons, bringing only her silky alto and trademark belt to her aid. On the cabaret stage, I have seen Peters enthrall so you could hear a pin drop, or have an audience doubled over from her wisecracking adlibs, or connecting so directly with a lyric or another on-stage singer that an audience is reduced to sighs or even tears. But of course, this is Jan Peters, live, I am describing, whom I have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing for a long time.
What we have with “Somebody Come and Play,” Peters debut recording, is a new Jan Peters altogether, and one that I am thrilled to meet. Instead of the ambitious story songs and showtunes that often pepper her live performances, the “studio” Peters has composed a fluid sensuous lively recording that you can immerse yourself in like a cool bath on a hot day. The studio Peters remains sassy, breezy, and easy-does-it throughout. Jazz aficionados will admire the crafting of melody, spare of ornament and vibrato, and pure clarity of voice, full of rhythmic power and clever phrasing, with a little scatting thrown in for fun. Cabaret enthusiasts will love the way she treats every lyric with care and honesty. Peters weaves a self-assured romantic thread throughout this entire recording, completely devoid of self-pity or histrionics, never once breaking the spell she casts from the outset.
Here, the studio Jan Peters uses many voices that the live Jan Peters does not. One can hear the lovely lilting reserve of Susannah McCorkle on “Time Flies,” where Peters’ voice playfully pebble-skims across the pond surface of the music. Peters’ lush honeyed tones warm up the exquisite ballads, where she seems to channel Rosie Clooney, as in the lovely pairing of “I Have Dreamed/We Kiss in a Shadow,” or Doris Day, as in Gershwin’s “Ask Me Again,” using a dynamic range from whisper to shout and back again with a carefree ease that Peters has all but patented. The raw emotional sound of Vicki Carr comes through in the heart-rending “Maybe Soon.”And Peters attacks “Come Back To Me,” with a vocal intensity that would make Edie Gorme nervous. Peters approaches a lyric with the same polish as her vocals, treating such songs as “I’m Glad There is You,” as the kind of genuine romantic declaration we’ve been used to getting from Margaret Whiting. And Peters handles the fragile Baccarat crystal lyrics of “My One and Only Love,” with affecting care, just as Irene Kral or Anita O’Day might. If you don’t swoon to Peters’ version of this, you’ve surely a heart of stone.
Peters achieves these shimmering effects by entering into a perfect marriage with her remarkable arranger and accompanist Tom LaMark. The synergy they create together is clearly evident in “When Sunny Gets Blue,” the only cut with just vocal and piano. She is the classic torch singer, to his nightclub piano player. The immediacy of this cut is palpable.LaMark’s rich arrangements lead and cushion Peters’ vocals with an intuitive skill equal to that of Astaire with Rogers on the dance floor. The variety is staggering, yet never jarring. The Latin beat to “I Have Dreamed/We Kiss in a Shadow” will lull you, the lush piano arrangement in “My One and Only Love,” sets a lovely romantic tone, while Sammy Davis Jr., or Jack Jones could step right into LaMark’s big band arrangements for “Come Back to Me” and “You’d Better Love Me.” Then there is the title cut. Listen to how Peters carefully tiptoes around a plucking solo bass line in the opening, swings into full gallop with the orchestra midway, and then tiptoes again to the finish. LaMark pulls this off with an incredible cadre of talented musicians, whom he conducts with style and finesse. It is our luck that he gives ample time in the spotlight to bass player Mark Carlsen and saxophonist Mike Monaghan on the title cut, trombonist Kenny Wenzel on “I’m Glad There Is You,” horn player Dave Burdett on “Wait Till You See Her/Ride on a Rainbow,” and guitarist John Baboian on “Time Flies,” and “Come Back to Me.” Each adds polish to these well-honed arrangements.
If you haven’t already, you may one day meet the live Jan Peters, the one who sang a stirring David Shire/Marilyn & Alan Bergman ballad at my wedding ceremony last year. Together now, we meet the studio Jan Peters, whom I trust will become an equally good friend of yours and mine. Years from now, if my luck holds out, I can get them both to sing at my silver anniversary celebration.
Contributing Writer, Cabaret Scenes, Bay Windows Newspaper