I'm old fashioned View full size

I'm old fashioned

Mike Abrate

2011

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12,99 €

Once upon a time, there were the Crooners. Those singers who used relaxed tones with shady, lazily sensual voices, The Americans simply adored Bing Crosby, whose vocal style was soft and intimate, though intrinsically rooted in Jazz. We remember him almost as if he had started it all, but the world of the American song was full of story-tellers: at the beginning there was Al Jolson, who became famous as the first voice of cinema when Hollywood launched him in “The Jazz Singer” after the arrival of the sound era. Together with Jolson there were others like Harlan Lattimore, Herb Jeffries, or Sy Oliver; the latter remembered more for his work as trumpeter and arranger. Among the female voices there was Peggy Lee, or Ella, Billie, Sarah, and the others who inhabited the somewhat more exhilarating territory of the Jazz song. Many of these names have long since been lost in the mists American song history. The genre’s main interpreter had become Frank Sinatra: the only one able to survive the test of time, leaving an extraordinary vocal legacy. But that Sinatra’s voice outlasted fleeting trends wasn’t enough to keep the tradition alive: that relaxed, richly harmonic, vaguely swing way of singing, so full of intimacy that the listener himself might actually believe that he could sing like that. They were nearly all more or less light baritones, each bearing witness to the American Dream. A dream which reminisced, smacked of the working class, the Great Depression, the New Deal, the writings of the Lost Generation, from Fitzgerald to Hemingway and Faulkner. It was a long period full of extraordinary events and these found hope, not only in the craze for dancing, but also through song. A hope tied to that American pride which at times the course of history had crushed. And then? Silence. The Crooners? A thing of the past. Music was heading elsewhere, it had invented new adventurous combinations. Singing, too had assimilated new sounds and tones; they were different and far-removed from that glorious past. It’s true that Sinatra had been on the scene for a long time, but he was the only one, and an exception: with his class he overcame every obstacle. Then, of course, there was the cinema, and his reputation as a hard-line womanizer. The crooners? Buried by events and trends. Not much was left of them. Not even for those who looked to the past with nostalgia. Then all of a sudden there was a sort of revival perhaps with no future, but nevertheless it meant the re-emergence of old passions: the idea of singing in that shadowy, lazy, yet dynamic way had resurfaced: Mel Tormé, Johnny Hartman, and Tony Bennett picked up the thread where Crosby had left off. Their dimension was reminiscent of the past but still tied to the present. However, they too were a cult, a niche phenomenon. They were good, acclaimed, but never as popular as the stars of the time. Perhaps they seemed merely nostalgic. As if they were seeking out a lost past; an era surpassed by new styles, new trends. The truth is, that compact yet vital spirit which always inspired the crooners, had never actually died. So it is, in an age like ours, which doesn’t in the least resemble the American dream, an age dominated by technique, by fear, by other latter-day monsters come to feed our anxieties and dreams, that once again this splendid, sophisticated, agile way of singing has re-surfaced. It is difficult for the past to return and yet here it is: ours for the taking; picking up the tradition and offering it anew.
A certain Mario Biondi sells out theatres singing “Sweet and Lovely”, “Night and Day”, “I’ll Remember April”, and there is a desire to know more, we want to discover niche performers, cult singers who have always expressed themselves in that bitter-sweet way. And this brings us to the name: Mike Abrate, lawyer and then singer. Jazz lovers know him from his many appearances in the legendary Studio 7 in Corso Venezia in Milan, refuge of Tito Fontana, industrialist, pianist, composer and poet, who opened its doors to musician friends from Sante Palumbo to Renato Sellani, from Gianni Basso to Chet Baker, Steve Lacy and many more. Together with them, Abrate rekindles the past, unhampered by ghosts of nostalgia or a languorous passion, but rather fuelled by the notion that this way of singing is in itself a refuge: home to survival. He sings “like Sinatra” but his is a decidedly original way to “imitate” the maestro. Since he was a boy, Abrate has nurtured and perfected his passion: concerts, performances, half-secret sessions in that Studio 7 where everything tasted of jazz and now a CD. 27 of the most well-known songs sung with a truly singular passion and dynamism, which steps outside any recognisable time frame and makes this genre we thought extinct contemporary again. His voice, too is a baritone, without artifice, relaxed, communicative and warm. Abrate’s performances of the great American song, Porter, Kern, Warren, have a clear tessitura and are relaxed to the point of laziness which brings to mind dreams of jazz. It is a full voice, inspiring images, adding substance to dream. He is uninhibited, nonchalant, even friendly. He imitates the greats of the past, but in doing so, he rereads their subtleties in the light of different times, imagining different dreams with instinctive musicality. His baritone voice creates musical phrases through syncopation, moments of tension immediately followed by a sort of relaxed relief, and the melded tones of changes in register. The arrangements too, where you can occasionally hear the genius of Sante Palumbo at work, are often the original ones: a dangerous path to take, but it stands up to the comparison because Abrate appropriates himself even of that which ought not to be his. In a sense, we should be fed up with these evergreen songs nearly a century after they were written, but instead Abrate’s vocal skills give their themes new shape. Never distorting their origin, rather embellishing them with the present. Actually, this CD could be described as “the past in the present”, and as a place where the personality of a niche singer emerges on an international scale, breaching time itself to open up a pathway to the happiness of bygone days.
Vittorio Franchini 
(translation by Simon Marsh) 


Etichetta NEW SENSATION - Catalogo N° NS CD 2009 - Produzione esecutiva Massimo Monti - Musicisti Associati Produzioni M.A.P.  - Distribuzione M.A.P.  - Anno 2011

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Brani contenuti nel CD:
01. Witchcraft (C. Coleman, 1957) - 2'41"
02. As Time Goes By (H. Hupfeld, 1931) - 3'22"
03. Little White Lies (W. Donaldson, 1930) - 1'50"
04. Fly Me To The Moon (B. Howard, 1954) - 2'48"
05. You Make Me Feel So Young (J. Mirow, 1946) - 2'07"
06. Fools Rush In ( R. Bloom, 1940) (orch.) - 2'42"
07. Day In - Day Out (R. Bloom, 1939) - 1'59"
08. The More I See You (H. Warren, 1945) - 2'42"
09. Night And Day (C. Porter, 1932) - 2'39"
10. All The Things You Are (J. Kern, 1939) - 1'45"
11. Begin The Beguine (C. Porter, 1935) - 2'57"
12. Darn That Dream (J. Van Heusen, 1939) - 2'44"
13. I’ve Got You Under My Skin (C. Porter, 1936) - 3'11"
14. I Had A Craziest Dream (H. Warren, 1942) - 2'24"
15. Rom This Moment On (C. Porter, 1950) - 3'39"
16. No One Else But You (T. Fontana, 1988) - 3'28"
17. Don’t Blame Me (J. Mc Hugh, 1933) - 2'56"
18. The Girl From Ipanema (A. C. Jobim, 1963) - 1'36"
19. Laura (D. Raksin, 1945) - 4'05"
20. I’m Old Fashioned (J. Kern, 1942) - 2'19"
21. I’ll Be Seeing You (S. Fain, 1938) - 2'20"
22. Body And Soul (J. Green, 1930) - 5'12"
23. The Man Who’s In Your Heart (from “Maturity”) (M. Abrate, 1995) - 2'.26"
24. Fools Rush In (R. Bloom, 1940) (band) - 2'52"
25. Strangers In The Night (B. Kaempfert, 1966) - 2'37"
26. My Way (J. Revaux, 1967) - 3'36"
27.New York,New York(J. Kander, 1977) - 3'01"