Wesla Whitfield

The Best Thing for You Would Be Me: The Irving Berlin Songbook

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Wesla Whitfield has carved a niche as a premiere interpreter of classic songs with her series of composer songbooks recorded for High Note. Many of the compositions which make up this CD (all with both lyrics and music by Irving Berlin) are like old friends, since many listeners have heard them countless times during their lives, yet Whitfield and her arranger/pianist/husband Mike Greensill find a fresh approach to all of them. The singer's crystal-clear diction and ability to capture the emotion within each number meshes beautifully with Greensill's imaginative charts. Whitfield restores the frequently omitted verse to "Blue Skies" and captures the whimsical nature of its lyrics. "There's No Business Like Show Business" seems indelibly associated with Ethel Merman's boisterous interpretation, but the subtler approach of the Whitfield-Greensill team, with the addition of Gary Foster's tasty tenor sax, will stand the test of time very well, too. Whitfield works her magic with a number of obscure works, including the soft-spoken ballad "Moonshine Lullaby" and the playful "Not for All the Rice in China." Highly recommended.

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