"There’s that old cliché about Cole Porter, that he’s a brittle, sophisticated, heartless songwriter – all champagne and cocktails. He really isn’t," says Susannah McCorkle. "I feel there’s a case to be made for him as a passionate songwriter." McCorkle makes that case, very convincingly, while also adding more to the evidence amassed by generations of jazz singers that Porter’s work is among the richest material available in American Popular Song.
"I couldn’t have done this album 15 or 20 years ago," says McCorkle, who is returning to a songwriter’s album format she used in her early recordings. "I really grew into my appreciation of Porter’s songs. First of all, he’s absolutely the sexist of the great songwriters. He really writes about a total, overwhelming physical and mental obsession in love. That’s the great thing about complete romantic love, that feeling when you first fall in love – it’s something I really identify with.
"And his songs are just a joy to sing, the rhymes are wonderful, and they all have a point and tell a story. He’s tremendously clever and witty, but I don’t think people credit him with the emotional depth he showed in some songs. They have a strong mood that he locks into and stays with and that’s what I look for in a song. So even on the things that sound dated, I wouldn’t change a word. Even when you don’t know the reference, its fun to guess from the context. I no longer take for granted those songs we hear a lot."
You won’t be able to take them for granted either, for McCorkle brings her unique intelligence and sensibility into play to find new perspectives in the songs. One that we hear a lot – refurbished in a swinging octet arrangement by drummer Rich DeRosa – opens this collection.
This album was recorded in New York, NY, on September 6-8, 1995.