Born: May 21, 1956 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
”Man, the lady can sing! Her magic gets to the ears and the hearts of the audience.” - Lionel Hampton
Cole Porter once asked, “What Is This Thing Called Love,” and it’s a question that many of our greatest artists have grappled with ever since” creating some of America’s most enduring and timeless music in the process. Now, it’s Sylvia Bennett’s turn. On her new album, Songs From The Heart featuring the Three Tenors - Boots Randolph, Ed Calle and Kirk Whalum, the smooth jazz and pop vocalist sings of the vicissitudes of love with a warmth, clarity and spirit that is enveloping and tender, showcasing the depth of her skill, talent and experience.
The Italian born and American raised Bennett is a singer’s singer, having sung on TV, in community theater, club dates, conventions and even the inaugurations of presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Walking in the footsteps of her idols such as Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Barry Manilow and Bette Midler, Sylvia has opened for artists as diverse as Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Mason, Dizzy Gillespie, Barry Gibb and David Brenner.
Her big break came in the 1980’s, when legendary vibraphonist (and National Arts Award Winner) Lionel Hampton took Sylvia under his wing and made her the first female singer to record with him in thirty years. She recounts, “Lionel validated me as a performer and inspired me to be the best singer I can be. He made me realize that the audience was the most important thing and that all I needed to do was to sing from the heart and be honest.” Sylvia worked with Hampton for ten years, touring and recording two albums together. The first, Sentimental Journey, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1987. The second project, There Will Never Be Another You, was a CD/DVD tribute to “Hamp” from Sylvia, and she furthered the honor to her mentor with the show, “The Lady and the Legend,” premiering in Miami in 2007.
Songs From The Heart featuring the Three Tenors emerged in the wake of Sylvia’s tribute to Hampton, when her producer, two-time Grammy nominee and two-time ASCAP Award winner, Hal Batt, suggested that she record timeless love songs and standards, backed by a small band to convey the desired intimacy. Sylvia was enamored of the idea immediately. “I’m a hopeless romantic,” she says unhesitatingly, “I think that love is what life is all about” wanting it, having it, losing it and having it again.” The songs, classics from the great American songbook, were chosen for how they related to the experience of love, making it a concept album, akin in spirit to Frank Sinatra’s great concept albums of the mid-1950’s.
The album really took off when Sylvia was joined on the recording by tenor saxophone legends, Boots Randolph, Ed Calle and Kirk Whalum. The tenors enhance the album’s smoky and organic vibe, complementing Sylvia’s silky smooth voice. “It was a thrill to have those incredible players on the album,” enthuses Sylvia. “The only song they played on together was “Since I Fell For You,” and it was pure magic.” Producer Batt declares, “We captured a moment in time that won’t happen again between three of the greatest tenor sax players in the world.”
Sylvia’s exquisite taste shines in the selection and performance of the material. From “My Funny Valentine,” (”It sums up everything about love to me”) to “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” (”Nothing and no one can take away the time you have with someone”) to “How Long Has This Been Going On,” (”I first sang that song in junior high” but now I really know what that song is about”), Sylvia utilizes her phenomenal ability to get inside these classic songs and have them reveal emotional dimensions previously unfamiliar.
Sylvia is eager to perform these songs in her natural environment” in front of a live audience. “I’ll be doing romance themed nights, performing the album as well as the material I did with Lionel Hampton,” she says. It’s clear that she’s immensely proud of Songs From The Heart featuring the Three Tenors and that she knows she touched on something. Sylvia concludes, “We live in such a technological world today that I think we forget about touching people. I think we all need a hug, we need to be embraced” we’re living in a troubled world. There’s nothing better than romance and being with someone who can shelter you from those storms.”
Sandy Shore, Smoothjazz.com
The holidays are just a heartbeat away at this point... for some a source of frustration but for most a delightful thought! Here’s something for all of the above... IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME WITH SYLVIA BENNETT... the lovely songstress that accompanied Lionel Hampton through the years. Sylvia shines on the classic Christmas carols, favorites for sure. She jazzes up Winter Wonderland and Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! featuring Ed Calle on sax… she reaches deep into her soul for Silent Night, hips to the hop on Santa Claus is Coming to Town and sings the heck out of The Christmas Song. In addition you will find three original holiday tunes on IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME WITH SYLVIA BENNETT... this is the first Yule release we are directing your attention to. It’s never too early to light up for the holidays!
Sandy Shore, Smoothjazz.com
Songs from the Heart is not just another jazz vocals album, it is a ground breaking project. Sylvia Bennett creates a perfect marriage of voice and sax singing wonderful jazzy love songs with the help of a cast of luminaries. Bennett charms her way into your heart.
Edward Blanco, WDNA, Miami
Sylvia Bennett’s new CD has lit up our telephone lines. She has a unique ability to relate a lyric that affects our audience. She’s an oasis from the troubles in the world.
Jeff Gehringer, Program Director KSPA/KFSD Anaheim, CA
You have not heard a collection of standards sung more passionately than the manner in which Sylvia Bennett delivers them. With the assistance of three of the music industry’s most prolific tenor saxophonists, Bennett & producer Hal S. Batt have created a masterpiece with Songs from the Heart.
Joe Montague, Riveting Rifts
Sylvia Bennett is a singer that personifies artistry in the truest sense of the word. Her tone is warm & pleasing to the ear. This album is like shaking hands with a smile as all the players bring their ‘A’ game to the session. There is no need to get the jeweler’s loop out on this record as the performers prove that great music speaks for itself.
John Gilbert, ejazznews.com
It's Christmas Time with Sylvia Bennett
Out of Sight Music
Tracks: 1. A Rainbow Christmas; 2. Winter Wonderland; 3. Silent Night; 4. It's Christmas Time; 5. Silver Bells; 6. Santa Claus is Coming to Town; 7. Wrap You Up For Christmas; 8. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!; 9. Christmas Lights; 10. The Christmas Song;
Personnel: Sylvia Bennett: Vocals. Hal S. Batt: Producer, Engineer, Programming, Guitar, Background Vocals. Ed Calle: Tenor Saxophone. Marcelo Azevedo: Bass. Paul Harris: Piano. Frank Derrick: Drums. Sammy Figueroa: Percussion. Astrid Pasmino: Background Vocals. Donna Allen: Background Vocals. Diane Williams: Background Vocals. Tiffany Ezekowitz: Choral Director. St. Rose of Lima School: Children's Chorus.
Songs From The Heart
Out of Sight Music
Tracks: 1. Embraceable You; 2. They Can't Take That Away From Me; 3. My Funny Valentine; 4. Since I Fell for You; 5. Someone to Watch Over Me; 6. Ain't Misbehavin'; 7. Here's That Rainy Day; 8. I Still Love You; 9. When Sunny Gets Blue; 10. You Make Me Feel So Young; 11. How Long Has This Been Going On; 12. As Time Goes By;
Personnel: Sylvia Bennett: Vocals. Hal S. Batt: Producer, Guitar. Boots Randolph: Tenor Saxophone. Ed Calle: Tenor Saxophone. Kirk Whalum: Tenor Saxophone. Chuck Bergeron: Bass. Brian Murphy: Piano. Frank Derrick: Drums. Sammy Figueroa: Percussion.
There Will Never Be Another You
Out of Sight Music
Tracks: 1 Just One Of Those Things; 2 There Will Never Be Another You; 3 Cookin' In the Kitchen a.k.a. Jumpin' In the Mudhole); 4 Sweet Man Of Mine; 5 Beulah's Boogie; 6 Bill Bailey; 7 It Might As Well Be Spring; 8 Together; 9 Red Top; 10 Please Love Me; 11 Someday; 12 You Make My Heart Sing; 13 You Make My Heart Sing - Remix;
Personnel: Name: instrument.
Tracks: 1 Sentimental Journey; 2 Don't Get Around Much Anymore; 3 The Lady Is a Tramp; 4 Undecided; 5 It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing; 6 It's All Right With Me; 7 Lullaby of Birdland; 8 Almost Like Being in Love; 9 Avalon (Instrumental;)
Personnel: Douglas Miller: Saxophone. Pat O'Leary: Bass. Charles Stephens: Trombone. Jerry Weldon: Saxophone. Adam Brenner: Saxophone. Chris Gulhaugen: Trombone. John Pendenza: Trumpet. Lee Romano: Trumpet. David Schumacher: Saxophone. Rick Visone: Drums. Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra: Performer. Sam Turner: Percussion. Thomas Chapin: Saxophone. John Gordon: Trombone. Sylvia Bennett: Vocals. Alan Simon: Piano. Robert Trowers: Trombone. Al Bryant: Trumpet. Vince Cutro: Trumpet. Lionel Hampton: Synthesizer, Performer, Vibraphone, Main Performer.
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