The stunning Telarc debut, I Wish You Love, illustrates how great singers, like The Manhattan Transfer's Janis Siegel, can renew great songs. Siegel not only pays homage to the legendary Brill Building—a veritable hit factory and the heart of New York's pop songwriting industry from the late 1950s through the mid 1960s—but also expands the concept by spotlighting jazz songs made famous by women.
The eleven performances featured here argue persuasively for the songwriting craft that went into these tunes, and for Siegel's profound understanding of how they work. The nine-time Grammy winner (and seventeen-time Grammy nominee) actually wrote and recorded in the Brill Building very early in her career.
I Wish You Love was originally conceived as an album in which a jazz spin would be given to pop hits from the Brill Building era: Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Go Away Little Boy," Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's "Just a Little Lovin'," and Pat Ballard's "Mr. Sandman." It was producer Joel Dorn who suggested music of the same period, but focusing on jazz vocals that had crossed over to the pop charts: Nancy Wilson's version of "(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over," Dakota Staton's "The Late Late Show," Etta Jones's "Don't Go to Strangers," Gloria Lynne's "I Wish You Love," Dinah Washington's "Where Are You?" and Miss Toni Fisher's "The Big Hurt."
Joining Siegel is a band hand-picked by Dorn, featuring the cream of New York's jazz scene, including trumpeter Tom Harrell, vibist Bill Ware and tenor saxophonist/flutist David "Fathead" Newman. The rhythm section adds a distinct nightclub vibe, propelled by pianist Cedar Walton, bassist David Williams and drummer Winard Harper.
If anyone has the right to mine this material, it's Siegel. I Wish You Love is a personal triumph that brings her career full circle from singing at age twelve with The Young Generation, an all-girl trio that recorded for Red Bird Records headquartered in the Brill Building. After Siegel finished high school, the group shifted from pop to folk and changed its name to Laurel Canyon. She landed herself a new gig after a chance meeting with Tim Hauser—then a taxi-driver with musical aspirations—led to the formation of The Manhattan Transfer, the acclaimed four-part vocal group. The group's landmark self-titled debut album was released in 1975, launching a 25-year plus success story. In 1982, Dorn produced Experiment in White, Siegel's first solo project. With five more albums over the past 20 years, Siegel has established herself as a leading light for jazz/pop vocalists.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Siegel resides in Manhattan with her 8-year-old son, Gabriel. In addition to her work with The Manhattan Transfer, she continues to enjoy considerable success through her solo career and diverse collaborative efforts. Following the release of I Wish You Love, Siegel will embark on an American tour with performances scheduled at major festivals and jazz clubs.
One of the musical highlights of the new year is already here. I Wish You Love is bound to appeal to anyone who remembers the hit tunes of the '50s and '60s (as well as those who are discovering them for the first time).