Alison Bentley

Songs of Leonard Bernstein & Irving Berlin

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

British singer Alison Bentley's third album is devoted to the songbooks of Leonard Bernstein and Irving Berlin. Not all that original, you might say, but she did make a few unusual selections like "Reaching for the Moon" and "For the Very First Time" to spice up the track list, while hanging on to crowd-pleasers like "America" and "Puttin' on the Ritz" to make sure the listener doesn't get lost. Bentley wears her deep alto voice like a silk dress. Sensual and warm, she displays restraint in her vocal ornaments and ear-pleasing accuracy. The backup band consists of pianist Dave Frankel, bassist Dave Jones, and drummer Paul Cavaciuti, with Steve Waterman and Martin Speake adding trumpet and alto sax solos to a few songs. The arrangements stretch the envelope of some of these familiar tunes, but they never break out of the vocal jazz mold. Take for example "Puttin' on the Ritz": The singer puts a lot of bounciness in it, turning it boppier than swing. The same applies to "Cool," given a mischievous facelift. "America," concluding the album, is turned into a surprising samba. But the highlight is "Blue Skies," sung with heart and embellished by a creative trumpet solo. Some jazz fans will say that Bentley's voice lacks distinctive features, but she does a more than convincing job both as singer and arranger, which is enough to make this CD quite enjoyable.

blue highlight denotes track pick