Anne Ducros' Either Way starts out with Irving Berlin's oddly off-kilter championing of the underdog in You'd be Surprised, which the singer delivers in a wistful reminiscence, dotting the middle-eight with an exotically linguistic scat, something repeated elsewhere and at which I suspect she's unique. I've certainly never heard it anywhere else. Then the atmospherics to My Heart Belongs to Daddy, another striking Songbook choice, invade the ear and soul, Benoit de Mesmay's perfect piano lines enticing the listener like a secondary siren. Summertime brings Maxime Blesin's guitar in, John Tropea by way of mid-period Peter Frampton, keeping the cabaret nightclub vibe going.
The title cut, written by Ducros and a couple of band members, brings out the Julie Andrews forever lurking or leaping out from the torchy half-swing dominating the CD. But Ella Fitzgerald's influence always shows, and there's an unusual little-known story to the disc's tributary title: Marilyn Monroe was a huge fan of Ella's singing, but the chanteuse was still struggling to get proper exposure. So Monroe called the owner of the Mocambo (L.A./West Hollywood) and promised to take a front row table every night if he'd book Fitzgerald. He did, Ella sang, Marilyn showed, the press went bonkers, and one of America's greatest singers was launched.
You'd be so Nice to Come Home To bops things up a bit while A Fine Romance lays back balladically, pensive and speculative. The former gets you into a dancing mood, the latter sees you back to your table, a cocktail, a sigh, and a long-lost memory. Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend is given a silkily dressy rendition with a glossary of intonations and again with that way cool novo-scat found earlier and elsewhere. Laura comes off as futuristic West Coast Cool by way of Forbidden Planet, what Robbie the Robot might have listened to after knocking off for the day. Don't know who's handling the organ (I got a promo copy), but it's off the wall, muy idosyncratico, and succeeds like a fiend, an echo from Jose Bertrami and the old Azymuth days.
That's the most surprising cut by far, but there are many wrinkles on the old catalogue here, and just to make sure you don't go away doubting it, Ducros messes around nine ways from Sunday with the infamous It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't got that Swing), a version that would've had Ella herself delighted.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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