Now available in multichannel SACD as well as the CD recording!
Acclaimed vocalist and songwriter, Ann Hampton Callaway makes her Telarc debut with the August 22, 2006, release of Blues in the Night. Perhaps best known for writing the theme to the hit TV series The Nanny and songs for Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Celine Dion, Callaway has also released a string of critically acclaimed albums of standards and originals.
Blues in the Night is the latest and most ambitious installment in that ongoing body of work, with performances by the Diva Jazz Orchestra and arrangements by Tommy Newsome (Johnny Carson's longtime musical director on The Tonight Show) Matt Gatingub, Bill Mays and Callaway herself. The CD's twelve tracks will be available on iTunes, in addition to an original love ballad, "You Are You," which Telarc will offer as an internet exclusive.
Callaway's new album is a dynamic and stirring collection of American Songbook classics, mixed with potent and witty original songs. The recording contains several jazz standards, but with arrangements and interpretations that are far from standard. "This is the feistiest, gutsiest, most let-your-hair-down CD I've ever recorded," says Callaway. "There are quiet and soothing moments, and there are moments when I wail. The recording expresses the full range of who I am. Of all my recordings, it comes closest to a live concert."
Callaway is joined on Blues in the Night by drummer Sherrie Maricle and her all-female Diva Jazz Orchestra. "I have wanted to sing with them ever since I heard their CD years ago," says Callaway. "I was knocked out by their talent." They finally joined forces during a very special engagement at Lincoln Center's Women in Jazz Festival in 2005, which was followed by an extended run at the famous Blue Note jazz club in New York. "Having spent so long as a solo artist, I find a great artistic camaraderie singing with orchestras and big bands," says Callaway. "Sherrie has gathered a remarkable group: women with amazing spirit, humor and spontaneity. Musical chemistry is important, of course, but so is personal chemistry. It's more than a job for these dedicated players. It's an emotional investment in their music."
"Swinging Away the Blues," the vibrant opening track, sets the tone for the entire recording. "My father would sing and scat around the house, which began my lifelong love for jazz and swing," says Callaway. "I want this CD to be an uplifting celebration. We all have to deal with everyday pressures. Enjoying great music is the best way to get through the hardships of life."
The CD's title track, heard here in an all-stops-out rendition of the Harold Arlen classic, is a fitting centerpiece for the album. Since Callaway first performed it a few years ago in the Broadway musical Swing!, it has become her signature song, and her interpretation has grown and deepened over time. "I grew up with the idea that in music, beauty was essential," she explains, "but sometimes it's more important to be real than to be beautiful."
Similarly, Callaway's driving and intense arrangement of "Blue Moon"—originally created for a Richard Rodgers centennial tribute—lets her explore colors and shades of her voice missing from past recordings.
The scintillating medley of Harold Arlen torch songs, "Stormy Weather" and "When the Sun Comes Out," was arranged by Callaway for her role in Swing! (Ann received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the show). The version on this recording features Ann's sister, Liz Callaway, the Tony Award-nominated Broadway star of Cats, Miss Saigon and Baby.
"Hip To Be Happy," was written to reflect Callaway's perennial upbeat attitude. "We live in a culture that deifies misery," she says. "There is a widespread attitude that to be a real artist you have to drink a bottle of scotch every day and destroy yourself. But a positive outlook can be your best friend. This song is my Lambert, Hendricks & Ross-inspired spin on the subject."
"No One Is Alone," a lilting and tender ballad, is Callaway's first solo recording of a song by Stephen Sondheim. "In a very alienating time," says Callaway, "people feel alone and stressed, and we forget to connect to each other."
Because he is renowned for his witty wordplay, Cole Porter is often overlooked as a composer and lyricist of deep passion and strong emotion. But Callaway brings out the sensuous undertones and deep yearnings of "It's All Right With Me," a number usually taken at a much faster pace. "To me, this song expresses the pent-up desire to be with someone you just can't be with. I think we've all felt that."
"I've put my own stamp on these songs," says Callaway, "and I hope the listener can find new truth in them. There is nothing like hearing a vintage song that we all know and love, yet feeling like you are hearing it for the first time." Indeed, Ann has accomplished her goal. Blues in the Night—frisky and fun, yet intimate and introspective—truly offers something for everyone.