PATTI AUSTIN BENDS, STRETCHES GERSHWIN ON ‘AVANT-GERSHWIN’ (RENDEZVOUS ENTERTAINMENT, MARCH 6, 2007)
NEW JAZZ ARRANGEMENTS INCLUDING “SWANEE,” “WHO CARES” PLUS TWO PHENOMENAL MEDLEYS
Patti Austin’s adventurous new album ‘Avant-Gershwin’ (Rendezvous Entertainment, March 6, 2007) finds the remarkable entertainer moving beyond basic covers of Gershwin songs and taking risks with the music and sometimes the meaning. “You can judge a brilliant piece of music by how you can bend and stretch it, “ said Austin. “ I always believed George Gershwin to be avant-garde so I wanted to challenge myself and rework everything melodically and lyrically.”
She traveled to Germany to collaborate again with WDR Big Band and its arranger Michael Abene who worked with Austin to tailor the music to her voice and her style. “I wanted to keep the jazz influence running throughout but also wanted to keep it contemporary.”
What results is eight ambitious tracks including the opening “Overture/Gershwin Medley,” “Who Cares,” “Swanee” and her “Porgy & Bess Medley.”
Five Gershwin tunes make up the sweeping “Overture/Gershwin Medley” including “I Got Rhythm,” “ Fascinating Rhythm,” “Clap Your Hands, “Slap that Bass” and “Strike Up the Band.” Leading off with a rousing fanfare, Austin wanted to bring back the concept of the medley because it was a popular way of presenting music for her generation.
She also makes a bold statement with the “Porgy & Bess Medley” by selecting all songs sung by the dominate male characters save the classic “Summertime.” To hear Austin deliver on Jake’s put down “A “Woman Is a Sometime Thing” or Sportin’ Life’s sly “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon For New York” forces the listener to reconsider the more submissive roles assigned to Bess and the other female characters.
Determined to remove the old school image associated with “Swanee” Austin calls her version a “love song to the south,” making it the most provocative track on the record. Most pointedly, Austin changes the word “mammy” to “momma.” On “Who Cares” Austin converts the tune into a horn-driven samba.
During her illustrious career, Patti Austin has crossed all music genres over the course of 16 solo albums and has performed her award-nominated hit songs on the GRAMMY’S® (“Baby Come to Me”) and the Oscars (“How Do You Keep the Music Playing”). In addition to her own CD ‘Avant-Gershwin,’ Patti also performed on and contributed to the critically acclaimed “Ray Sings, Basie Swings” project as well as the Luther Vandross tribute album “Forever, For Always, For Luther Volume II” and is featured on the new George Benson/Al Jarreau project.
1. Overture/Gershwin Medley
2. I’ll Build a Stairway To Paradise
3. Who Cares
4. Funny Face
5. Loved Walked In Love is Sweeping the Country
7. Porgy & Bess Medley
8. Lady Be Good
Hear tracks from Avant-Gershwin at http://rendezvousmusic.com/v2/