The Harry Warren Songbook
Got Music Records
Harry Warren was an American composer who is known for his work on films with a number of the songs he collaborated on becoming standards (such as "At Last" written for a 1942 film "Orchestra Wives"). Other songs he was associated with (In collaboration with Mack Gordon, Johnny Mercer, Al Dubin and others) include "Lullaby of Broadway," "Jeepers Creepers," "I Only Have Eyes For You," "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "The More I See You," "September in the Rain," "Forty Second Street, "We're in the Money" and others. He was the great uncle of guitarist Doug Munro who arranged 14 songs in the manner of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France and recruited celebrated guitarists Harold Alden, Vic Juris, Vinny Raniolo and violinist Andrei Matorin to help make this project happen. There were four sessions involved and Munro contributed two originals as well.
This is this writer's first exposure to Munro who has recorded in a wide variety of contexts over the past three decades, which starts off on a lively note with "Lullaby of Broadway," with dazzling guitar as Alden, Raniolo and Munro each get a chance to solo here with the backing rhythm helping propel things here. "Serenade in Blue" is a lovely rendition of this Warren/Gordon ballad while Raniolo and Munro are featured on "Nagasaki." a novelty number popular in the swing era, although we could have been spared the novelty vocal on this. Matorin's violin joins in for exhilarating "Jeepers Creepers," and "Chattanooga Choo Choo," that contrast with the reflective rendition of "I Only Have Eyes For You."
Vic Juris' contributes lovely playing to "The More I See You," while he and Munro each contribute to "September in the Rain," that ends with a quote of Jimi Hendrix's "Wind Cries Mary." A tribute to Warren, "Blues For Harry," is one of the two originals and has some fine playing from Raniolo, Ted Gottsegen as well as Munro. "Forty Second Street," is taken at a walking tempo with Bujese's violin outstanding. A lively "We're in the Money" has sizzling playing from Raniolo, Gottsegen and Munro, although again the vocal could have been dispensed with. The tango rendition of "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams," comes across as perhaps a bit melodramatic, while the breakneck "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby," is a fun performance
A lovely rendition of "At Last," the arrangement of which sounds inspired by the classic Etta James recording, closes this tribute to one of the great American film composers It also stands up as a marvelous album for gypsy jazz and jazz guitar aficionados.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review appeared originally in the March-April 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 371). Here is Doug Munro performing "42nd Street."