Cheryl Bentyne – The Book of Love – Telarc

by | Nov 24, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Cheryl Bentyne – The Book of Love – Telarc 83652, 49:18 *****:

If you are not familiar with Cheryl Bentyne, you should be.  The extraordinary soprano from The Manhattan Transfer has managed to combine a quarter century of success as a member of the premier vocal jazz quartet with a thriving career as a soloist.  I just love Cheryl Bentyne’s voice. Her ability to portray emotion in her singing without becoming cloying has earned her well-deserved accolades as well as an ever-increasing fan base.  She could give lessons on how to sell a song.  A recent interview with Ms. Bentyne stated that she is in her prime at this stage of her career.  As far as I am concerned, she has been there for most of the last twenty-five years.  Each time I hear her sing, I am struck by the vocal smoothness, the flexibility of her sound, the slow simmer that she can create when necessary, the pure laughter she can evoke in the right situation.  For Cheryl Bentyne, singing is merely an extension of speaking, as it should be.  Her singing on this recording is amazingly consistent in terms of vocal production and attention to the appropriate style of these ballads.
The music on this CD is listed in “chapters” that tell the story of a love affair.  The songs are arranged according to where they fit into the story, and they take the listener through the many stages of love: longing, flirtation, lust, love, joy, disillusion, and (finally) loss.  The music that was selected and arranged within this theme does not present much variety of tempos; but I can easily forgive that because the entire recording is so well done. This music is perfect for Bentyne’s brand of singing, warm, expressive, and honest.  The supporting instrumental parts were well conceived and served as a comfortable foundation for Bentyne’s lovely vocals.  I especially liked the backup singers on “The Book of Love” and was intrigued to find out that two of them are members of Take 6.  That explains the incredible cohesiveness of their tone.  John Pizzarelli lends his own smooth voice to “Blue Moon” as a pleasing compliment to Bentyne’s sound. Corey Allen, who has also worked with The Manhattan Transfer, wrote most of the finely crafted arrangements on this disc.
I found it fascinating that this recording was done in Prague, and that the familiar “American standards sound” came from the playing of the City of Prague Symphony Orchestra Strings.  A well-known American symphony orchestra conductor I frequently work with maintains that it has become too expensive to record music with orchestras here in the States.  This reminds me of that statement and makes me wonder where we are headed.
Tracklist: You Don’t Know Me, Be My Love, Blue Moon, Let’s Do It, Don’t Say A Word, The Book Of Love, You Taught My Heart To Sing, You Go To My Head, Cry Me A River, I’m A Fool To Want You, Goodbye, The Book Of Love (Reprise)
– Ann Stahmer

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