Jackie Allen: I've Never Been In Love Before


I've Never Been In Love Before


Jackie Allen (vocals)


Starry Night (Avant Bass 1705)

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Jackie Allen (vocals),

Michael Kocour (piano), John Moulder (guitar), Hans Sturm (bass), Dane Richeson (drums), Muncie Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Rattay (conductor)


Composed by Frank Loesser; arranged by John Clayton


Recorded: Sursa Performance Hall, Muncie, Indiana, October 4 & 5, 2008


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

One of the best results of having a first-rate music college in your community is that you get a first-rate community orchestra. The ranks are filled with faculty and student musicians, giving them both valuable performing experience, and the community gets excellent music played in their hometown, usually with lower ticket prices than for the big-city orchestras. In the case of the Muncie Symphony, the musicians are from Ball State University, where Hans Sturm is professor of double bass. When Muncie's conductor Bohuslav Rattay heard Sturm's wife, jazz vocalist Jackie Allen, at a concert in Chicago, he invited her and Sturm to create a joint concert with the symphony. Starry Night was a successful fund-raiser for the orchestra and the CD displays the fine music made during the two concert nights.

While collaborations between vocalists and symphony orchestras are rather common, what makes the Allen/Muncie partnership unique are the superb arrangements which offer substantial parts for the orchestra and challenges for the vocalist. John Clayton's fine setting of "I've Never Been In Love Before" is a standout performance. The long instrumental introduction offers no clue to the song that is about to come, and when Allen enters with a slow and quiet rendition of the opening phrases, the strings surround her with weaving contrapuntal lines (perhaps to illustrate the helpless haze she's in). There's a touch of relief in the bridge as the moving lines cease. Then the rhythm section enters for an extended vamp as Allen, who had not diverged from the melody to this point, eases into a light scat. The moving lines return in a muted form for the final bars of the melody, then the tempo jumps up to medium-up for solos by pianist Michael Kochur and guitarist John Moulder. There is a sudden return to the slower tempo and the scat vamp, but then the rhythm section continues accompanying Allen for the remainder of the chorus, leaving the extended coda (which is a partial re-statement of the introduction) to the orchestra.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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