Ann Hampton Callaway: What Is This Thing Called Love

Track

What Is This Thing Called Love?

Artist

CD

At Last (Telarc 83665)

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Musicians:

Ann Hampton Callaway (vocals),

Ted Rosenthal (piano), Jay Leonhart (bass), Victor Lewis (drums)

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Composed by Cole Porter; arranged by Ann Hampton Callaway & Bill Mays.

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Recorded: New York, March 4-8, 2008

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Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Ann Hampton Callaway is a graceful performer equally at home in the worlds of jazz and cabaret. In addition to many classic pop songs, her repertoire includes several of her own compositions which reflect and expand on the legacy of American Popular Song. Originally, I had planned to discuss one of her original songs, but this version of “What Is This Thing Called Love?” is a superb example of Callaway in a pure jazz vein.

Over a sinuous vamp figure, Callaway wraps her velvety alto voice around Cole Porter’s lyrics, making subtle variations to the melody. After the first chorus, Callaway yields to a piano solo, and one might think that the vocalist would be absent until the last chorus of the track. But Callaway keeps herself involved in the arrangement and after a chorus of piano, she’s back for a George Shearing-styled shout chorus which introduces short solos by bass and drums. Then, backed by only bass and drums, Callaway sings a bop-flavored scat solo that shows that she has learned equally from vocalists and instrumentalists alike. Indeed, Callaway is a pianist herself and like many of her contemporaries, her scatting is informed by her knowledge of chords and scales, and guided by her fine ear.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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