Joyce Breach

This Moment

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Unlike a true jazz singer for whom the lyric is the medium, for a singer of the cabaret mold, the lyrics are the message. A jazz singer uses the lyrics to show off the voice as an instrument, the breathtaking swoops, wide sweeps, scatting, and other wordless vocalizing frolics are all part and parcel of a jazz singer's paraphernalia. But for a cabaret performer, the words are everything and the music almost incidental. He or she (mostly she) is as much of a storyteller as a singer. This means that the songs must tell a story that pricks and retains the ear of the listener. The musical agenda for the cabaret performance is often filled with songs that are rarely played outside of that setting. They come from the great songsmiths like Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, and Irving Berlin, but are among their lesser-known works, and from composers of somewhat lesser stature. On this latest effort by consummate club singer Joyce Breach, the selections fall into this category. There's "First" by Johnny Mandel, "Falling Out of Love (Can Be Fun)" by Irving Berlin, and "Love Isn't Born" from Arthur Schwartz & Frank Loesser. All are verses about unrequited love of sophisticates who take their romantic disappointment with a stiff upper lip and shrug of the emotional shoulders which becomes their class. Cabaret songs generally are not about the comings and goings of the great unwashed. Since that's where most of us fall, they wouldn't be nearly so interesting. All the selections are not about relationships gone sour. There's some fun stuff like a bouncy "Love and the Weather" and the gay Berlin medley about dancing. Bounce and gaiety are essential elements of cabaret. Breach is accomplished at her art, an inhabitant of that elevated aerie of cabaret singers occupied by great practitioners of this music like Elisabeth Welch, Edith Piaf, and Bobby Short. Breach is ably accompanied by pianist William Roy, who did the arrangements and contributed a song, and by bass player John Loehrke. This album is an excellent specimen of this special kind of musical dramatics.

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