May 2007

Two For The Road
Arlene Smith – Two For The Road CD release
May 3, 2007 Opal Jazz Lounge Toronto
Two For The Road Plus One
by Paul J. Youngman with photo by Mike Colyer
I was fortunate to actually get in to see Arlene Smith during the release of her new CD — Two For The Road, Arlene Smith with Mark Eisenman, a standing room only crowd had gathered on Thursday evening at the Opal Lounge in support of Ms. Smith for this, her new release, a duet recording of jazz standards. The duo was joined for this performance by acoustic bassist Steve Wallace.

A singer who interprets jazz standards with a wonderfully warm and inviting voice; harmony and melody, phrasing and timing all performed with the skill of a master of vocal jazz, and it all seems to come so naturally. Ms. Smith has a voice somewhat reminiscent of Carmen McRae and even the wonderful Sheila Jordan at times, both singers who have perfect command of their instruments and can work a song to make it their own.

Arlene Smith captured my heart on her first song during the live performance at the Opal Lounge. When Ms. Smith sings, it seems that she is singing to you personally, she sings with intense passion and a voice of sincerity, heartfelt songs of love, filled with human emotion, conveyed as only someone who has experienced life to the fullest can do. I listened to her interpretations of classic songs, each song seemed new and fresh, “But Not For Me”, “More Than You Know”, “Down in the Depths of the Ninetieth Floor”, “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me” and “Lucky To Be Me” each song holding my attention and offering up advice on how to live and love life in a full and spirited manner.
Arlene Smith
After hearing Arlene Smith at the Opal, I was eager to check out her new recording and found the CD every bit as appealing. The recording, a duet of piano, care of Mark Eisenman and vocals by Arlene Smith, have the pair working together quite nicely and flowing through sixteen tracks of classic jazz standards and a few not so standard, like “Baby, Baby, Don’cha Go’Way Mad” written by Mundy, Stillman and Jacquet, one of the highlight tunes of the recording.

As well as the previously mentioned songs performed live, there are some other highlight tunes, the recorded version of, “Down in the Depths of the Ninetieth Floor” by Cole Porter, humourous lyrics that Ms. Smith sings with a serious sadness — all the while swinging to the stride style of Mark Eisenman. Tunes like “Skylark”, “The Nearness of You” and “Two For The Road”, are all performed with passion and joy.

The CD is well produced, sounding very much like a live recording, no noticeable effects. The liner notes indicate many of the tracks were recorded in one take and the energy and spirit of a live off the floor recording have been captured. The sound quality, the mix, the singing and the piano playing are all excellent. A fine duet recording and a must have for those who enjoy great jazz singing, classic songs by a master jazz vocalist.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
• • • • • •
Mike Colyer
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2007