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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Sylvia Bennett

Songs From the Heart

Review by Gary Hill

Those who like female fronted jazz sounds will really enjoy this album. There aren’t a lot of big surprises here, but the music is nearly perfect. That means that what this disc might lack in originality it more than makes up for in execution. I like the disc a lot, and this isn’t even my first choice in terms of musical styles.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Embraceable You
Picture yourself in a smoky jazz club. You see the singer stretched across a piano. The pianist weaves his musical melody as Bennett sings over the top. We get some horn work later in the track, but overall this is a piano and vocal jazz ballad treatment on this standard. It’s a great song and a great performance.

They Can't Take That Away From Me
This has a more energetic arrangement. It’s fairly up-tempo and features multiple instruments. The musical interplay, though, never really overwhelms the vocals. It’s another strong tune.

My Funny Valentine
I’ve never really liked any version of this track that I’ve heard. The thing is, I am crazy about this one. It seems a bit moodier and more dramatic than the ones I’ve heard before it. This is tasteful and pretty. The saxophone on this is stellar, but don’t overlook the great piano lines underneath or you’ll be missing out.

Since I Fell for You
This is one of the highlights of the disc. It’s bluesy, but they don’t discard the jazz stylings to get that real blues feeling. There is an incredible instrumental break on the track and everything just clicks.

Someone to Watch Over Me
In a contrast, I’d have to say that this one doesn’t do as much for me. It’s another piano and voice ballad, but just doesn’t seem to have a strong enough character to hold up to the rest of the disc.

Ain't Misbehavin'
Now this is more like it. Bouncy and fun, this is a killer rendition of another jazz classic. We get a great vocal performance and some wonderful musical excursions.

Here's That Rainy Day
They take a pretty standard piano and vocal arrangement here and turn into something sublime. This is pretty and powerful and when they augment the arrangement with horns it’s even more wonderful. This is definitely a highlight of the CD.

I Still Love You
This almost has a rock arrangement. There is still jazz in the midst, but with different music surrounding it this would be quite at home on a rock disc. It’s also got one of the most modern sounds on show.  Although I wouldn’t consider this a standout cut, it does present a bit of variety.
When Sunny Gets Blue
While the early sections of this are a bit lackluster when they fire out into the more powerful motifs the track is saved from mediocrity.

You Make Me Feel So Young
Although this isn’t one of my favorites it’s bouncy and fun.

How Long Has This Been Going On
Starting with a bass solo this is a slow bluesy jazz grind.

As Time Goes By
I’ve always been a Humphrey Bogart fan, so this one gets bonus points for its connection to “Casablanca.” Of course, it doesn’t really need them as this song itself (I’m talking the composition) is so potent. The performance is pretty incredible, too. It’s a great way to end the disc.

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