The Music of Richard Whiting
Label: Katya Records
Sleepy Time Gal; My Ideal; Guilty; Beyond the Blue Horizon; She's Funny That Way; Too Marvelous For Words; Ain't We Got Fun; When Did You Leave Heaven?
Pamela Hines: pianist/arranger; John Lockwood: bass; Miki Matsuki: drums.
￼PAMELA HINES TRIO- THE MUSIC OF RICHARD WHITING – by Scott Yanow, Jazz Critic/Historian Pamela Hines’ new project is a change of pace for the creative pianist who has often featured her own colorful originals. For this CD, she performs some of the most rewarding songs composed by the vintage songwriter Richard Whiting. The project began because she loved Whiting’s “My Ideal.” “It led me to checking out some of his other songs, discovering many gems, and wanting to record a full set of his music.” Richard Whiting (1891-1938) was one of the great American songwriters of the 1920s and ‘30s. Beginning with 1914’s “It’s Tulip Time In Hollywood” and continuing with such classics as “Till We Meet Again,” “The Japanese Sandman,” “Hooray For Hollywood,” “Miss Brown To You,” “My Future Just Passed,” “On The Good Ship Lollipop” and the eight performed on this set, Whiting had many successes, writing the scores for 36 films during 1929-38. But a fatal heart attack in 1938 when he was just 46 ended his life and resulted in his legacy becoming somewhat forgotten. With her 11 previous CDs, as a leader, and her many performances as an East Coast pianist, Pamela Hines has a strong musical legacy of her own. For this set, she used the always-busy and brilliant bassist John Lockwood and her regular drummer Miki Matsuki to perform some of Whiting’s most rewarding originals and make them her own. “The challenge was to add new harmonies to some of the songs, modernizing them a bit without losing their essence.” “Sleepy Time Gal” (1926) is reinvented with the choruses doubled in length and modern chords added that Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner might have used while the melody is kept close by. Pamela’s statement is followed by a particularly strong improvisation from the bassist. In contrast, the pianist caresses the melody of “My Ideal” (first performed by Maurice Chevalier in 1930) with obvious affection. “It is such a beautiful song that it does not need anything added.” “Guilty” is a superior obscurity from 1931 popularized by Bing Crosby as a vocal ballad and, after the composer’s death, by his daughter Margaret Whiting in 1946. Recast as a joyful cooker with some surprising stop-time stretches, this version features Pamela romping with the trio. “Beyond The Blue Horizon” (1930), which is taken a little slower than usual and given a Latin tinge, has always been associated with Hollywood, ever since Jeannette McDonald introduced it in “Cairo.” “She’s Funny That Way” (from 1929 and a hit at the time for Gene Austin), was made famous in jazz by Billie Holiday. After playing a straightforward version of the melody, Pamela added some new chords into the solo section that gives it spice and freshens up the tune. “Too Marvelous For Words” (1937) is Whiting’s most famous composition. Pamela’s boppish variations and personal chord voicings add to the magic of the song. Ain’t We Got Fun (1920) was a sensation during the first half of the 1920s but has only been sporadically performed since. The trio’s uptempo rendition is full of heated moments and includes a colorful solo by Matsuki. Concluding the enjoyable set is “When Did You Leave Heaven” (nominated for an Academy Award as Best Original Song in 1936), which Pamela takes at a relaxed pace with voicings that conjure up a big band. This CD succeeds in bringing back some of Richard Whiting’s most significant songs, and in adding another memorable recorded milestone to the productive career of Pamela Hines. Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers, Swing and Jazz On Record 1917- 76
- The Music of Richard Whiting by Dan McClenaghan