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Review by EDWARD BLANCO , September 19, 2019
Peter Eldridge, Kenny Werner: Somewhere
Singer Peter Eldridge, founding member of the famed New York Voices, and veteran pianist and composer Kenny Werner, a world-class performer for over 40 years, finally come together for a collaboration of talent and song that has been percolating for nearly a decade. The result is the incredible, sophisticated harmonic treasure Somewhere, a masterful fusion of song, talent and magic, nicely wrapped in an audacious eleven-track vocal album.
The breadth of the project was not fully known to the singer and only revealed upon arrival at the studio when confronted with a 40-piece orchestra. Thus, the musical backup comprised a 20-piece string section (the Fantastical String Orchestra) in addition to featured artists Yoron Israel on drums, Matt Aronoff on bass and special guest George Garzone on the tenor saxophone ("Ballad for Trane"), all combining to make this recording outstanding in every way.
Although this album contains a few well-known classics and standards—such as the medley "Somewhere" and "A Time For Love," the Ivan Lins standard "Minds of Their Own," and the opening Cindy Walker & Eddie Arnold classic "You Don't Know Me"—the majority of the music reveals many Eldridge and Werner originals with arrangements provided by the pianist.
It is more than an album of ballads and love songs, it is a musical experience reflecting the many faces of life from love to joy, from lament to "That Which Can't be Explained," a delicious number. Somewhere delivers a ton of enjoyable music showcasing Eldridge's unique vocals and Werner's exceptional skills for an all-round killer of a recording.
"an intimate and sophisticated session of ballads that capitalizes on Eldridge’s warm baritone and Werner’s piano virtuosity.” —Pierre Giroux
Somewhere, a new album on Rosebud Music, brings together vocalist Peter Eldridge and pianist Kenny Werner for an intimate and sophisticated session of ballads that capitalizes on Eldridge’s warm baritone and Werner’s piano virtuosity. All of this is encased by orchestral strings utilizing the arrangements of Kenny Werner.
With the exception of three numbers, most the music presented was written by either Werner or Eldridge with the lyrics provided by a variety of lyricists. In any event the compositions are replete with modish points of view and musical worldliness.
The set opens with “You Don’t Know Me” which was written by Cindy Walker from story line provided by country singer Eddie Arnold. The artists who covered the tune are too numerous to mention. Be that as it may, Eldridge delivers a languid heart wrenching version of the tune, while Werner’s piano fills in beautifully around the edges.
“I’m So Glad You’re Mine” is the first of the several Kenny Werner compositions that dot the album. The piece opens with a delicious piano solo from Werner, and then Eldridge picks up the theme with an evocative run through of the lyrics.
The only Aldridge/Werner composition included in this release is “Autumn In Three” which speaks to the promise that fall brings with leaves falling and a bite in the air. Werner offers some evocative single note lines along with a big tone bass solo from Matt Aronoff.
Another Werner composition with lyrics by Douglas Worth is ”Ballad For Trane”. After Aldridge takes an amiable turn though the lyrics which are somewhat obtuse, tenor saxophonist George Garzone delivers a warm harmonic solo in a straight ahead fashion.
“Somewhere/A Time For Love” are compositions from an unmatched pair of musical icons. Firstly Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim wrote “Somewhere” for the 1957 Broadway production West Side Story, and the latter was written by Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webber for the 1966 film An American Dream.
These two numbers are an interesting musical juxtaposition as Eldridge and Werner are the only players on the first piece delivering an interpretation full of self assurance and grace. On the second offering, Werner drops out and Eldridge is supported only by the string section that provides a variegated harmonic feel to the singer’s approach to the number.
This album is a reflective and expressive excursion to a place of stylish inspiration.
– Yves Dorison, Culture Jazz
Jazz as we listened to long ago with ubiquitous strings, it still exists. The proof with this record of crooner singer Peter Eldrigde and pianist Kenny Werner recorded with orchestra whose stated goal is to revive a jazz aesthetic of the fifties. With a playlist that contains iconic titles such as "You do not know me, Somewhere, A time for love" and original works by Eldridge and Werner, the album, beyond the tribute, finds its originality in the sophisticated arrangements of the pianist. We nevertheless think of Nelson Riddle's arrangements or the voice of Johnny Hartman surfing softly on the strings. It's lush without being stuffy and always classy. The interventions of the saxophonist George Garzone, like those of Kenny Werner, as millimeter as they are, translate perfectly the general atmosphere of this romantic disc to wish. This is done by candlelight with a refinement whose apparent disuse does not lack charm and flesh; and Peter Eldridge's baritone timbre, used with elegant delicacy, greatly enhances this impression. We almost regretted that there is not a duo with a crystalline female voice (Jane Monheit, for example). It is not in the air of course of course and, to be honest, we thought we were bored a little. Error on our part; we have made ourselves beautiful and this clever and distinguished music has surreptitiously carried us into reveries that only this type of album can generate. In these times when the inhuman misery is spreading, romanticism has significant assets because, by its very timelessness, it soothes. But what is this old French expression that was used not so long ago? Oh yes, "put some balm in your heart."
GIANCARLO MEI 2019 Wild Bunch: Music Of The Year
Peter Eldridge/Kenny Werner: "Somewhere"
During last century Popular Music has been constantly improved to be a perfect vehicle to express joy and entertainment, but also to be the best and quickest way to bring an simple artistic value to the people, regardless of real music's knowledge, social class or level of education of the listeners. With jazz, swing, R&B, rock'n'roll and so on, Popular Music really changed the planet, bringing new ways for expression and even brand new ways to inspire good revolutions. Unfortunately, nowdays a lot of that force has gone, lost into the great sea of silly market and poor quality. But wait a minute. Shocking breaking news: it's still possible to create an album of definitive quality for everyone, filtering elegance, poetry and real great music. Would you believe? Brilliant jazz pianist Kenny Werner recruited crooner Peter Eldridge to work with a 20 elements orchestra, melting quality jazz, pop and Broadway spirit into a dense and unique modern fusion. Eldridge's balanced baritone, well known for his fantastic work with New York Voices, dances through the notes, giving the project a vision that goes beyond the horizon. Pure joy for the heart, soul and ears, in an album that recalls us how's exciting to have a great, sensible singer and a fantastic orchestra doing the right things in the right way. When singing means really something. Beyond his inspired vocal support, it's important to say that all Eldridge originals (he started as pianist and is also a remarkable songwriter) are the core of the Cd: "Less Than Lovers", "I'm Glad Your Mine", "Ballad For Trane" (with George Garzone on sax) and a masterpiece like "That Which Can't Be Explained". Inspiration and grace. Sublime.