- Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most (Tommy Wolf, Fran Landesman)
- They All Laughed (George and Ira Gershwin)
- If It's Magic (Stevie Wonder)
- I've Got a Crush On You (George and Ira Gershwin)
- Mr. Paganini (Sam Coslow)
- Someone to Watch Over Me (George and Ira Gershwin)
- There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon for New York (George and Ira
Gershwin, duBose Heyward)
- Good Morning Heartache (Irene Higgenbotham, Ervin Drake, Dan Fisher)
- Paper Moon (Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg, Billy Rose)
- Some Other Time (Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green)
- In a Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington, Irving Mills, Manny Kurtz)
- Love for Sale (Cole Porter)
- Glad to Be Unhappy (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart)
- Sophisticated Lady (Duke Ellington, Irving Mills, Mitchell Parish)
- I Have Dreamed (Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein)
- Hero and Leander (Adam Guettel)
- Migratory V (Adam Guettel)
Darius de Haas - vocals
Steven Blier - piano
This is a beautiful collection of mostly well-known standards from classic jazz and Broadway, sung and played with love and sincerity. In a Sentimental Mood is the name of one of the numbers, and it could also be the name of the entire collection, most of which falls into the "Twilight Zone". If you know the songs, or at least a few most popular of them, then think about Sophisticated Lady or Someone to Watch Over Me: this is the prevailing mood here. It is quiet, tranquil, warm, sometimes melancholic, but never gloomy. However, it is not static at all: now and again you'll be shaken, not stirred, by energetic punches like Mr. Paganini or There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon for New York. So, this is a very enjoyable sequence. And the performance is, well, gorgeous.
Darius de Haas possesses a great voice, and knows how to use it.
At first I was reminded of young Al Jarreau, but this one is sweeter
and more "oily", which is a plus in this repertory. If you are allergic
to vibrato, beware: it is present here. It is not heavy or wobbly,
it's just really noticeable in long notes, and there are a lot of
long notes around. I would describe it as a "Broadway voice", with
the matching attitude - somewhere pushing over the top, somewhere
a bit narcissistic. But, then, this could only be considered a crime
for someone who just pretends to have a great voice: de Haas is in
his right doing it. He is versatile, and his way of interpreting the
standards is very expressive. No restraint or understatement here,
except maybe for the hushed and reserved Good Morning Heartache.
In the rest, both performers blatantly wear their hearts on the sleeve,
and love every moment of it. De Haas colors and shades the notes,
and shapes the phrases. Around him Steven Blier builds castles and
magical gardens, like the genie from "Aladdin". They are not in a
hurry, savoring the beautiful tunes, bathing in their warm glow. Blier
is very inventive in his improvised arrangements. The fast numbers
are sparkling. In Mr.Paganini, de Haas faithfully reproduces
the scat fireworks of Ella Fitzgerald, which made me wonder: couldn't
he say his word? But that's a minor complaint.
Two more things about the singing of Darius de Haas. First, he has excellent breathing technique. It seems that he can go kilometers in full steam. Second, his diction is exceptional. English is not my native language, so I usually have problems understanding the lyrics "from the air", but here every word is just so clear. It does not diminish the musicality or make the singing "square": on the opposite, the clarity of the words adds to the quality of the perception.
The liner-note tells about the interesting gestation history of the
album. First we hear the story from the producers, and then from the
pianist. The texts of the songs are not included. The recording quality
is excellent, with a good feeling of presence and surround. If you
love the shimmering old pearls of the "Great American Songbook", you
won't be disappointed.