Deborah Winters: Lovers After All (2011)
In his entertaining and impeccably researched book, Sessions with Sinatra (Chicago Review Press, 2004), author Charles Granata details the intricate in-studio mechanics and all-important chemistry behind some of the greatest recorded vocal performances of our time. The unique balance of Frank Sinatra's talent, sophisticated arrangements, great tunes and phenomenal musicians made those recordings classics.
On her third CD, Lovers After All, vocalist Deborah Winters surrounds herself with 11 standards from The Great American Songbook and a group of fine musicians. However, unlike Sinatra's recipe, this effort falls just a bit short of what it might, and should, have been. That's not the fault of Winters; she has a marvelous voice, great dynamic and tonal control and a best-of-the-Book selection on which to strut her stuff. There is just something intangible missing here at times.
Classic arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Gordon Jenkins framed and set Sinatra up so marvelously; musically, they almost stand on their own. In contrast, the large ensemble arrangements on Lovers After All at times simply do little to enhance, embellish or embrace Winters' fine singing. Unfortunately, the charts are rather predictable and somewhat clichéd.
Winters' musicianship, as well as that of the featured soloists, is hands-down outstanding. Trombonist Scott Whitfield himself a fine vocalistand saxophonists Fred Lipsius, Rob Roth and Charlie McCarthy are simply superb. Trumpeter and flugelhornist Peter Welker is also a first-rate soloist.
Winters has a unique, almost theatrical flair for a lyric and its rhythmic delivery. Her work is filled with beauty, marvelous nuance and passion on the balladic "Body and Soul" and Duke Ellington's classic, "Come Sunday." She's seductive throughout and soars beautifully on "Haunted Heart," delivered here as a sweet bossa. She shines brilliantly in the smaller ensemble format. The orchestral approach supporting Winters on "For All We Know" is absolutely classic, with Lipsius' solo and those angelic strings channeling Charlie Parker making it the highlight of the release. Things get less secure, however, on the up-tempo numbers "Get Out of Town" and "End of a Love Affair," and on the shuffling "I Love Being Here With You."
Hopefully, Winters and crew can take the many fine elements of Lovers After All and build on them, placing this superb vocalist within a complete framework worthy of her very admirable talents.
Track Listing: Lovers After All; How Am I To Know; Get Out of Town; Body And Soul; I Love Being Here with You; For All We Know; Haunted Heart; The End of a Love Affair; Come Sunday; How Deep Is the Ocean; I'll Close My Eyes.
Personnel: Deborah Winters: vocals; Doug Morton: trumpet (1-5, 9, 10); Peter Welker: trumpet (1-5, 9, 10), flugelhorn (11); Charlie McCarthy: alto saxophone (1, 4, 7, 9, 10); Rob Roth: tenor saxophone (1-5, 8-10); Scott Petersen: baritone saxophone (1-5, 9, 10); Mark Levine: piano (1, 4, 8, 9, 10); Chris Amberger: bass (1-4, 6-10); Kevin Dillon: drums (1, 4, 8-10); Andrew Speight: alto saxophone (2, 3, 5); Fred Lipsius: alto saxophone (2, 6); Scott Whitfield: trombone (2, 3, 6, 7); Dave Mathews: pianos (2, 3, 6, 11), Hammond B3 organ (5); Celso Alberti: drums (2, 7); Randy Vincent: guitar (2, 3, 7); Pete Levin: string synth (2, 4, 6); Kendrick Freeman: drums (3, 6); Garth Webber: guitar (5); Tim Haggerty: bass (5); James Preston: drums (5).