The Great American Songbook has been coming under increasing and more widespread attention of late, and that's a good thing. There's a reason those songs are durable, probably immortal, and open to much interpretation, extrapolation, and just plain repetition, so much so that not many aficionados have noted the bulwark has become not just a reference to Tin Pan Alley and other venues but in fact a genre unto itself, one that's a bitch to one-up no matter how hard you try. It may even be that the form will rest solely upon itself as a sub-function of what are known as 'standards', unique and, without further context, impossible of reduplication without the day and the attitudes that created them. In that, David Basse catches everything about the form quite nicely, from Sinatra-esque tuneful sprechestimme to bouncing skoobly-op, with many shades in between. Looking like a longshoreman Tony Bennett, his voice and approach are mindful of someone who made it out of Manhattan or Chicago but not all the way, more than a little of the rough and tumble of the streets lingering behind.
That scat song, 52nd & Broadway, written by Mike Melvoin (also pianist and co-producer here) and Richard Hurwitz, is one of four penned by the pair, one of which, Something Fried, comes very close to Songbook quality, down-home streetside lyrics crucial to everything. Throughout the CD, Phil Woods' sax and clarinet are as key to the atmosphere as Melvoin's bopping keyboard rambles, bassist Steve Gilmore and drummer Bill Goodwin locking down the rhythm section. There's definitely some Jon Hendricks to Basse's expression, and even Maya Angelou noticed it, admiring the soul in his recitations. That's played out further in Parker's Mood, Woods setting the listeners up, Basse knocking 'em back down again, descending happily into amber foaming beers and glistening chestnut whiskeys, all and sundry dreaming of a beatnik freedom. Pitch Magazine named Basse Best Male Vocalist, Bill Clinton hired his band to heat up the 1997 Inaugural Gala, and Al Gore grabbed Strike while the Iron is Hot to pep up the 2000 campaign. Still in all, fame, awards, and recognition are one thing while material is another, and David Basse is the working man's hi-tone Uptown remedy to a week spent fighting the boss, busting the hump, and dialing back stress, the cat you go to when you want to forget it all and wallow in city lights and night-time sidewalks…but with just the right amount of tarnish, wear, and West Side tear so you know the guy's been there just like the rest of us.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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