For her sixth album for George Buck's Audiophile label, consummate cabaret songstress Joyce Breach has selected a program of torch songs, a novelty tune or two, and some up-tempo material. The common thread running through the musical agenda is that all the tunes are from movies made during the years 1929 to 1973. Thus, the album's title Reel Songs. To their credit, the producers did not fall back on familiar warhorses from movie musical scores, but instead they rescued songs that have been relegated to the oblivion bin. The arrangements tend to favor Breach being backed by piano, rhythm, and a sole instrument like sax or trumpet. This works because the instrumentalists brought in to support this singer are first class. Experienced accompanist Keith Ingham is on most cuts with his sympathetic piano. But nowhere does his ability as a singer's friend come through more than on the poignant medley "A Very Precious Love"/"A Certain Smile." His understanding keyboard work can be a model for the way a pianist should work with a vocalist. Randy Reinhard shows he is equally adept on trumpet and trombone. His soft, mellow slide horn is featured on "All That Love Went to Waste." Reinhardt favors the muted horn, à la Harry Sweets Edison, on the haunting "Laura," one the highlights of the album. Scott Robinson's Stan Getz-influenced honeyed tenor provides the support for Breach on several cuts and is especially telling on "Love Can Change the Stars" while his clarinet takes the lead on "That's for Me." Robinson is a favorite among singers, having shared a recording studio with Rebecca Kilgore. Not only is the individual work outstanding, but the ensemble playing is equally adroit. On "The Tender Trap," the group is pushed along by Ingham's blusey piano for a swinging version of this tune from the 1955 movie of the same name becoming a staple in the Frank Sinatra repertoire. With her cool, but not emotionless, understated manner of delivery, Joyce Breach, along with her talented confreres, provides a very entertaining hour's plus worth of movie tunes with arrangements shaped to show off Breach's voice and delivery at their very best. This album is recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan