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MP3 David Berger Jazz Orchestra - Sing Me A Love Song with Freda Payne and Denzal Sinclaire

These previously unrecorded and unpublished melodies by Harry Warren are being released. They have the quality of Golden Age classics with their beautiful melodies and distinctive hooks. Each sounds like a standard we should already know and love.

15 MP3 Songs in this album (56:56) !
Related styles: Jazz: Swing/Big Band, Jazz: Big Band, Type: Vocal

People who are interested in Duke Ellington Harry Warren Nat King Cole should consider this download.

Harry Warren’s melodies are vital to the soundtrack of twentieth century America. In 2008 my Executive Producer Bob Schwartz and I decided to devote an entire album to some of Harry’s hits; I Had The Craziest Dream: The Music of Harry Warren (SST 2206). While researching the album, Michael Feinstein introduced us to Harry’s family, which controls his archives and publishing company, Four Jays. From his granddaughter Julia Riva, and Robert Walls of Four Jays, we learned that there was more – lots more – where this music came from. They invited us out to LA where I spent most of a week combing through Harry’s trunk.

Harry spent his life writing songs for the movies. Hundreds appeared in over four decades of film and TV, three won Oscars, and 42 reached the Hit Parade''s Tope Ten. No other songwriter comes close to these numbers. But what about all those songs that didn’t make it into the movies—when Judy Garland wasn''t available, or scenes got cut, or a studio boss had a different notion? And what about those tunes with the misfortune of having been written on a day when Harry had too many good ideas?

In the Harry Warren Archives, in a period loft in Los Angeles, I found about 40 songs that jumped out at me. They have the quality of standards from the Golden Age with their beautiful (mostly diatonic) melodies and interesting intervals, suggestive of sophisticated harmonies. Each sounds like a standard we should already know and love.

Narrowing these 40 songs down to fit on a single CD was not easy. There Is No Music was the first pick. Poignant, and lush, it could easily be Ira Gershwin’s elegy for his brother George, and Harry’s for his son, who died as a teenager. Michael Feinstein, friend and assistant to both Ira and Harry, discovered it while helping each to organize his music. None of the other songs had lyrics or titles. A few were incomplete—lacking a bridge or an ending. Harry rarely even wrote out the harmonies.

I started arranging instrumental versions of melodies that spoke to me. Titles came from a list of movies that Harry worked on, but for which he hadn’t provided the title song. Sing Me A Love Song, I’m Sorry and Double Trouble all fit the melodies in spirit and scanned lyrically. Our band began performing these, plus With Your Hand In Mine, every week at our Tuesday Night at Birdland. Both the band and audience took to them right away—a very good sign.

The next step was casting vocalists whose styles and personalities would be perfectly suited to these songs. Freda was a natural, with her outstanding careers in both pop music and jazz. We were delighted that she was interested, and she quickly agreed to do the project. My buddy Chuck Israels suggested that we listen to Denzal, an artist with a fine career in Canada, and Denzal was similarly enthusiastic about the project. Freda, influenced by Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington, and Denzal, by Nat Cole, know how to treat a standard. Like us, they felt immediately comfortable with, and enthused about, these melodies.

Now, how to find a lyricist capable of sounding unselfconsciously period without being dated, so that the songs would speak to us today as the old standards do. Again, Chuck came up with a great recommendation. His daughter Jessica had directed a show for which Paul Mendenhall had written lyrics. I sent Paul three of the tunes and asked him to write lyrics to any one of his choice. The next day I had all three sets of lyrics in my email! Me And You was perfect, I’m Sorry needed a tiny bit of tweaking, and Song Of The Gigolo (Harry’s title) was transformed first into Dolce Mio, then Venetian Afternoon, Positano Days, and finally Positano Afternoon.

Without Harry to assist us, I assumed his role, as Paul and I began the back-and-forth of artistic collaboration, discussing the musical intent, suggesting titles and lyrics, and making the necessary musical adjustments to accommodate the perfect lyric, without compromising the integrity of the tunes.

Before we could record the songs, we needed the approval of Four Jays, including Harry’s great-grandson, Jean Paul. JP, a musician himself, loved the lyrics and pointed out several problems that Paul and I were able to work out to everyone’s satisfaction.

Next came two days of rehearsals followed by two more of recording. The band ate up the new arrangements. Bob, Co-Executive Producer Peter Fannon, and I decided to include ten vocals, plus an additional instrumental version of five of the songs, showing the beauty and adaptability of each.

This album includes a wide range of styles--the quasi-Italian waltz of Positano Afternoon, the Latin beat of But Here We Are, the devastating ballad I’m Sorry, and the Basie-esque instrumental version of Double Trouble. All ten of these undiscovered gems truly deserve to be standards, and we expect many musicians and singers will want to perform them. Who knows? Perhaps one will find its way into a new movie and earn Harry his fourth Oscar. I for one wouldn’t be the least surprised.

David Berger
October 3, 2009

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