Paul Schmeling

One for the Road

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As much as any popular singing star, the songs that Frank Sinatra sang have become the theme for any number of albums by any number of instrumental (not to mention vocal) artists, from Joe Lovano to Stan Tracy and Bobby Wellins, with many more in between. Now comes Director of Piano at Berklee College of Music Paul Schmeling and his trio to play a number of tunes usually associated with Sinatra. But there the similarity ends. A master of improvisation and uncommon interpretive skills, Schmeling adds his own very personal, highly stylized imprimatur to this music. "Come Fly With Me" is peppered with heavy and unusual chordal arrangements, while "Put Your Dreams Away" is a flowing waltz before segueing into a light classical sonata. On "Bein' Green," the melody for the leading character is played by John Repucci on bass over Schmeling's close-to-melancholy piano, which flirts with but never states the melody, making this a very intriguing track of music. One tune that comes close to the way Sinatra sang it is a light, lilting swing version of "Learnin' the Blues." Even here, after a chorus and a half, Schmeling takes off down his own road with a very animated, insinuating right hand. But for the most part, this is Schmeling's take on the music Sinatra liked to perform. On this, his second album for the North Star label, he gives fellow trio mates a little more opportunity to express themselves, especially Repucci on bass. But Artie Cabral has his moments on drums as well. This is Sinatra revisited, but in a very unexpected and entertaining way. Recommended.

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