Frank Lamphere

Ain't Love a Kick: The Unforgettable Songs of Sammy Cahn

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Chicago vocalist Frank Lamphere's 13-track tribute to/interpretation of the songs of Sammy Cahn is an able set that plays it very tight and straight and safe. There is nothing particularly wrong with this performance, but there isn't anything that shines, either. The music is by a quartet comprised of guitar, piano, bass, drums, and on occasion a Hammond B-3 (that's the radical side of the proceedings here). The basic problem isn't Lamphere's voice -- his baritone is solid, he has lovely pitch, and he knows how to accent the end of a line without driving it home, essential when interpreting this material. The problem is that Cahn's songs are so great, so truly immortal, one can't help but fall short by doing an entire recording of them. Even the greats usually only did a couple on a record. Frank Sinatra -- who is a deep influence on Lamphere -- would never have conceived of doing an entire Cahn album. The project is just too ambitious to get completely right. Ain't Love a Kick is a pleasant listening experience by a competent singer who simply bit off more than he could chew. Lamphere is no Kurt Elling, and as audacious as he is, he wouldn't have attempted something like this.

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