Thursday, June 08, 2017

Peter Campbell Loving You: Celebrating Shirley Horn

Peter Campbell
Loving You: Celebrating Shirley Horn
Peter Campbell Music

Canadian-American vocalist first came under the spell of Shirley Horn when, as an undergraduate at McGill University he heard her "Here's To Life" album. It was her ability to "express so much with such seeming economy." He was mesmerized by her in performance and cites in the liner notes hallmarks of her performances: "impeccable taste in material; absolute dedication to lyric interpretation; and her distinctive approach at tempo - often at a glacial pace." Campbell views Horn as less a traditional jazz singer with her vocals in service of the lyric and melody. Such a central aspect of her singing was quoting Thomas Cunniffe was "her unique way of making every word count." He considers Horn the greatest ballad singer of her generation and "Loving You" is a tribute to her accompanied by his pianist (and arranger) Mark Kiesetter; guitarist Reg Schwager; bassist Ross Macintyre and trumpeter Kevin Turcotte.

Campbell's vocals sound rooted in the cabaret with a quivering vibrato and his deliberate phrasing (his extension of words over several beats) that provide emphasis to the lyrics. While the backing is evocative, no players is as striking as Horn herself was as a pianist. Still, there are many charms to the performances in addition to Campbell's heartfelt singing, there is trumpeter Turcotte's haunting trumpet on "Wild Is The Wind," or "Forget Me," or guitarist Schwager's fleet bluesy playing on "Sharing the Night with the Blues."  "There's No You," has a crisp, economical solo from Kiesetter. The title track is a marvelous duet by Campbell and his pianist and musical director.

Most of the tracks are taken at a glacial tempo that Campbell finds so appealing in Horn's music. The sameness in tempo over the course of most of the songs make this recording some might sample several tracks at a time as opposed to listening straight throiugh. The slightly brisker pace as on "Sharing the Night with the Blues," or "The Great City," provides a change of pace in this context. It is so telling of Shirley Horn's impact years after she passed that she inspired Campbell and this engaging, heartfelt tribute.

I received a download of this for review from a publicist. Here is Peter Campbell in performance.

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