Dave Frishberg: Brenda Starr


Brenda Starr


Dave Frishberg (piano, vocals)


Lookin' Good (Concord Jazz 4998)

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Dave Frishberg (piano, vocals), Snooky Young (trumpet), Rob McConnell (valve trombone),

Jim Hughart (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums)


Composed by Dave Frishberg and Johnny Mandel


Recorded: Los Angeles, August 1989


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

As the newspaper business continues to decline, here’s a tongue-in-cheek tribute to a fictional heroine of newspapers long past: super-reporter Brenda Starr! Dave Frishberg and Johnny Mandel wrote this song for the movie “Brenda Starr”, but it wasn’t used in the film. The lyric brings back the days of “The Front Page” and its remake “His Girl Friday”, when newspaper writers would do anything to get a story. Most of the lyric is comprised of screaming, outlandish headlines—my favorite is Ex-wife of Russian czar will wed Kareem Abdul Jabbar—and Frishberg delivers the lines with a cynical edge that brings to mind the vocals of one of his heroes, Jimmy Rowles. There’s ample solo space on this recording and Snooky Young makes the most of a rare opportunity with a fine performance set entirely in the middle range. After boppish solos by Frishberg and Rob McConnell, Frishberg returns with the second verse, and the lyric reveals even more cynicism, with Read all about it/Don’t stop to doubt it/It’s in the papers/It’s gotta be true (yeah, right) and Judge takes bribe/So what’s new? Although Frishberg’s lyric supposedly refers to corrupt practices long since abandoned, it’s rather eerie to hear it in the context of today’s newspaper crisis.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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