Beegie Adair

I'll Take Romance

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One reason that the great pop standards of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s are great pop standards is that they have proven versatile. Though usually written for Broadway or Hollywood musicals, they were taken up by pop musicians while still new, and over the years served as vehicles for jazz players before being transformed by Frank Sinatra and his followers in the '50s and '60s. They survive in thousands of lounges and nightclubs when they are not being performed in large venues. In undertaking an album of such songs, Beegie Adair is doing anything but re-inventing the wheel. With her usual trio, filled out by bassist Roger Spencer and drummer Chris Brown, she has turned in lightly improvisational versions of these well-known tunes, using chord substitutions and adding filigrees and other adornments here and there, but never straying from the melodies for more than a bar or two. And she has then hired an arranger to write some charts and brought in an orchestra to be overdubbed on the tracks. The result is pleasant, of course, but it depends on the joy of rediscovery to have any value, and these songs have never gone away. Record stores are full of CD reissues of this music from years ago that are more impressive than this collection. At the end, the pianist takes on "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" unaccompanied by her sidemen or the orchestra, and suggests that she might have done better to go it alone.

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