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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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The Book of Love

Telarc CD 83652



1. You Don't Know Me
2. Be My Love
3. Blue Moon
4. Let's Do It
5. Don't Say a Word
6. The Book Of Love
7. You Taught My Heart To Sing
8. You Go To My Head
9. Cry Me a River
10. I'm a Fool To Want You
11. Goodbye
12. The Book Of Love
Cheryl Bentyne - Vocals,
John Pizzarelli - Vocals (track 3),
Mark Kibble and Alvin Chea - Vocals (tracks 6, 12)
Zoe Allen - Vocals (tracks 6, 12)
Corey Allen - Piano, keyboards
Bill Cantos - Piano (track 5)
Kevin Axt - Bass
Grant Geissman - Guitar
Wayne Johnson - Guitar (track 2)
Dave Tull - Drums
Don Alias - Percussion
Scott Breadman - Percussion
Charlie Bisharat - Violin (tracks 3, 10)
Armen Ksajikian - Cello (track 2)
Bob Sheppard - Tenor sax
Chris Tedesco - Trumpet
The City of Prague Symphony Orchestra Strings conducted by Corey Allen

Cheryl Bentyne is best known as a member of vocal quartet Manhattan Transfer but with this album she substantiates her position as a fine vocalist who can certainly go it alone. As I criticised a recent Jane Monheit album for the lushness of its backings, you may think I am being inconsistent to praise this CD, on which Cheryl is accompanied by lush strings on several tracks. But Cheryl has retained a jazz quality which Jane Monheit seems to have jettisoned. And the backings here vary enormously - from the simple guitar and cello in Be My Love to the equally discreet and effective piano accompaniment on You Taught My Heart To Sing.

The CD is actually an example of that rather old-fashioned idea: the concept album. It traces the progress of a love affair from initial longing, through flirtation and joy to disillusion and loss. The longing is eloquently expressed by the opening You Don't Know Me, with emotional orchestral backing. Things look brighter with Blue Moon, on which Cheryl is sympathetically joined in a vocal duet with John Pizzarelli. This track is spiced up with Grappelli-like violin from Charlie Bisharat, who brings added poignancy to I'm a Fool To Want You and the heart-rending Goodbye.

If the first track made you wonder about Cheryl's credentials as a jazz vocalist, tracks 3 and 4 provide convincing proof that she is a real jazz singer. Her phrasing and the little variations she introduces are evidence of a jazz sensibility. Her versatility is evident in the smooth seductiveness of Don't Say a Word (with a good sax solo) and the Latin-flavoured You Go To My Head. On the title track (briefly reprised at the end of the album), she is joined by two members of Take 6 and Zoe Allen who supply a cappella vocals to create a sound reminiscent of Take 6 or Manhattan Transfer. This is my favourite track on the CD - a rich, deep vocal arrangement , conveying perfectly the mixture of tenderness and irony in the lyrics. But there are no duff tracks here at all. Recommended enthusiastically.

Tony Augarde


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