FAME Review: The SSJ All Stars - From California with Love
The SSJ All Stars - From California with Love

From California with Love

The SSJ All Stars

SSJ-USA Records - SSJ-USA 002

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

From California with Love is a true lounge/piano bar/nightclub CD designed to sooth the rest of the day after a bastard morning and afternoon with your hammerhead boss over a year-old Poindexter account failing because the idiots up in Accounting had quoted nerve-rending estimates that are now pretty much in the toilet. Yep, it's that kinda collection of antidotes to the feeling that you shoulda just marched up into the Domain Of Suits and strangled the entire lot. The artists here are many and varied, but all are redoubtable vets and know exactly what's needed. So hey, step into the happy hour holistically designed grotto approved by Dom Perignon & Assoc., strip that tie off, loosen up the Van Heusen neckline, and lemme show ya why.

Let's start with the uptempo Strike Up the Band, a way cool study in fastfooted contrasts where Johnny Holiday be-bops and swings into the first measures only to be offset by Sam Most's icy cool neo-Mose Allison/Dave Frishberg-esque laid-back hipster jive. Without missing a beat, Most shifts the jumping progression then tracks himself in a tenor sax duet that extrapolates what he and Holiday just got into. Before you know it, Leslie Lewis is slinkily slipping into something more comfortable, Skylark, bringing pulses back down to a misty-eyed drowse, catfooting from a well-waxed linoleum and marble den replete with Ionic fluting to the satin folds of the bedroom. From there, the ladies may wish to saunter over to Dick Noel's croony cover of Johnny Mercer's Dream, a rather romantic fade into lullabye-land. The entirety of the CD oscillates between those milieus.

The venture itself, however, is being anthologized to raise monies to help the victims of the Fukushima earthquake in Japan (and if the exceedingly hushed world class disasters at the plants for the idiotic nuclear energy sites over there are even vaguely correct, that island country is going to badly need such funds), but here's an interesting precursor: in July, there was a jubilee concert in Los Angeles that featured most of the singers and players on this disc. That, my friends, would've been a very sweet gig to have attended—and its proceeds also went to this aid effort. More, the event would've made a great DVD as well, and, who knows, maybe that's in the pipes, too. For the time being, though, this is sufficient to any desiring a return to a pre-rock and roll milieu, a time when Frankie, Como, Torme, Boone, and the Great American Songbook were all in their own halcyon days and ways.

Track List:

  • Sue Raney / Alan Broadbent: Blue Skies (Berlin / Lerner / Lane)
  • Alan Broadbent: Sweet And Lovely (Arnheim / Daniels / Tobias)
  • Johnny Holiday / Sam Most: Strike Up The Band (Gershwin / Gershwin)
  • Leslie Lewis / Gerard Hagen: Skylark (Carmichael / Mercer)
  • Kurt Reichenbach / Jim Cox: Here's To Life (Butler / Molinary)
  • Diane Hubka / Dan Sawyer: Sweet Happy Life (Samba De Orfeo) (Salvet / Moraes / Bonfa / Gimbel)
  • Christian Jacob: Ue Wo Muite Arukou (Sukiyaki) (Ei / Nakamura)
  • Tierney Sutton / Christian Jacob: Beautiful Love (King / Van Alstyne / Young / Gillespie)
  • Jim Cox: We Can Work It Out (Lennon / Mccartney)
  • Dick Noel: Dream (Johnny Mercer)
  • Chriss Connor: I Feel A Song Coming On (Mchugh / Fields / Oppenheimer)
  • Frankie Randall: The Wave (Frankie Randall)
  • Pinky Winters / Jim Cox: You'll Never Walk Alone (Rodgers / Hammerstein)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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