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TEACH ME TONIGHT


HighNote Records 1997
HCD 7009
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Teach Me Tonight - Wesla Whitfield
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TEACH ME TONIGHT

  1. It's A Most Unusual Day
  2. I've Heard That Song Before
  3. Almost Like Being In Love
  4. Teach Me Tonight
  5. Pick Yourself Up
  6. Don't Worry 'Bout Me
  7. I Fall In Love To Easily
  8. I Double Dare You
  9. It Ain't Necessarily So
  10. When You Wish Upon A Star
  11. I Wish I Were In Love Again
  12. All My Tomorrows
  13. Just In Time
  14. Until The Real Thing Comes Along
  15. I Should Care

TEACH ME TONIGHT

wesla whitfield: vocals
mike greensill: piano / arranger
Michael moore: bass
Joe LaBarbera: drums
Noel jewkes: reeds

orrin keepnews: producer




TEACH ME TONIGHT



A Few Thoughts From the Singer:

Perhaps even more than in our nine previous recordings, these are a group of songs we truly enjoy doing. That's not to say that we didn't like the others as much, but just that each of these fifteen bring us a certain musical satisfaction. And that, you might say, is the theme of the album – here are these songs we really love, and love to perform, and isn't' it more than time to record them for you.

Sammy Cahn wrote so many great words for songs that have passed into the realm of standards – which honors them, but unfortunately also puts them in grave danger of being overdone, as played by the dance bands at nearly every social function you've ever attended. I suspect that all too often we take those lyrics for granted and don't really listen to them. A perfect example of that is I've Heard That Song Before. When was the last time you heard the verse or paid attention to the pain of loss that this song embodies?

The other five Cahn numbers – Teach Me Tonight, All My Tomorrows, I Fall In Love Too Easily, I Should Care and the rousing Until the Real thing Comes Along – all point up Sammy's genius for presenting a universal idea in a simple yet perfectly balanced setting, whether collaborating with Jule Styne or Saul Chaplin or Gene De Paul or whomever. These are songs that speak to all of us.

Safe in the hands of Mike Greensill's arrangements and these fabulous musicians, the other songs here are rescued from severe cheerfulness (It's a Most Unusual Day and Pick Yourself Up) or maudlin poignancy (When You Wish Upon a Star and Don't Worry 'Bout Me) and instead are allowed to showcase the highest level of the American Popular Song.

To be able to make music with the likes of Michael Moore, Noel Jewkes and Joe LaBarbera also inspires and encourages me to strive for my own highest level of musicianship.

The wonderful tunes on this album cover a very wide range – from I Double Dare You to It Ain't Necessarily So, with a great variety of stops along the way. This is not a short journey. As noted, these are among our favorites; hopefully they are, or will not get to be, some of your favorites too.

Wesla Whitfield
San Francisco 1997
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A Few Thoughts From the Arranger:

I'm often asked what it is that an arranger does – specifically, what an arrangement does for Wesla. There really are tow answers: to provide a carpet for the singer to float over. And hopefully to create an interesting setting to help with her personal interpretation.

When Wesla first chooses a song, we talk about how many choruses, what keys, etc. – and then I'll go away and take the harmony apart and put it back together again. Stage Two usually consists of rehearsing to find out if we really like the song after all, and then, if all is well, then we'll begin talking about interpretation.

We've always liked to swim against the current (Wesla invariably opens her show with a ballad rather than the customary flagwaver), so we often alter a song's tempo or time signature. The first three numbers here are excellent examples of this. It's a Most Unusual Day was written in 3 / 4, so of course we do it in 4/4. This seems to make it less perky, and more in keeping with the way Wesla wanted to approach the lyrics. We do revert briefly to ¾ midway through the last chorus, and then swing it out for maximum lift! In the case of I've Heard That Song Before we changed the tempo from medium swing to a slow ballad, which enables Wesla to make the song more an internal thought – which is how she conceives of it – than a declamatory statement.

Almost Like Bein' in Love, the hit song fro Lerner and Loew's "Brigadoon", represents even more of a reshuffling job. Wesla, I should note, almost always begins a number by singing the verse, to set up the premise of the story to come. On this one however, we start with the chorus, played rubato – which makes it sound like a verse. Then we get into tempo, and let the piano player do a turn, and only after that do we inset the verse. It comes as a surprise there, giving us a wonderful push into the final chorus.

The final element in the arranging equation is the musicians, and the most magical quality about jazz musicians is what they bring to the session over and above whatever has been written on the page. Michael Moore's sublime bass playing has become indispensible to us. Listen to Just In Time in his duet with Wesla. There's no arranging here; I just give Michael the key and step aside.

Joe LaBarbera has the right rhythm and feel for every situation. Taste and intelligence will out! By the way, both Joe and Michael, as well as our esteemed producer, Orrin Keepnews had stints with the immortal Bill Evans, (I had to keep pinching myself and trying not to get too nervous about that.)

Then there is Noel Jewkes, a superb jazz musician. Ruby Braff, the great jazz cornetist, has called improvisation "the glorification of melody," a description that fits Noel perfectly. Not only that, he plays a lot of horns. To pick one at random, check out his tenor sax on I Fall in Love Too Easily. It'll make you weep.

All these musicians share Wesla's and my love for these wonderful songs. You can hear it in the playing, and it sure makes the arranging easy.

Mike Greensill
San Francisco, 1997

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