A CD Review by Floyd Levin
MELISSA COLLARD "OLD FASHIONED LOVE" FEATURING DAN
BARRETT, EDDIE ERICKSON, AND OTHER SPECIAL GUESTS
(1) I've Had My Moments; (2) Song of the Wanderer; (3) The
You and Me That Used to Be; (4) Old Fashioned Love; (5) Meet Me
Where They Play the Blues; (6} Nevertheless I'm in Love With
You; (7) On a Coconut Island; (8) Warm Valley; (9) When Somebody
Thinks You're Wonderful; (10) Street of Dreams; (11) I'll See
You in My Dreams; (12) Stardust; (13) Why Don't We Do This More
Often?; (14) Back in Your Own Backyard (62:13)
Melissa Collard (vo); Dan Barrett (co/tb); Bill Bardin, Bob
Mielke, (tb) Richard Hadlock (reeds); Ray Landberg (vi); Ray
Skjelbred (p); Steven Strauss, (b); Eddie Erickson (gu/bj/uk/vo/)
Bob Wilson, Bobby Black (gu), Berkeley, California April 9 &
10, 2004 (Melismatic Recordings - MR CD101)
Available @$15.00 + $3.00 S&H From: Melismatic Records,
Box 19024, Sacramento CA 95819-0024
Although Melissa Collard has been a professional singer for
many years, her name might not be familiar to some Classic Jazz
fans - but, when they hear this, the lady's first CD, her
considerable vocal skills will become vividly apparent.
Those skills are enhanced by her choice of material, an
excellent assembly of eleven empathetic sidemen, and an array of
brilliant arrangements designed to frame her mood and
Melissa has selected a fresh batch of superb songs for this
CD. Some are tunes you probably have not heard in a long time,
and some that you might never have heard before. The CD's song
list is a compelling reminder of leading pop lyricists' skillful
way with words - like Gus Kahn ("I've Had My Moments"
and "I'll See You in My Dreams"), Bert Kalmar
("Nevertheless I'm in Love With You"), Mitchell Parish
("Stardust"), etc. Melissa, capably handling the
musical and emotional elements of these songs, depicts the
meaningful lyrics with great perception.
Each number, in its own way, is a love song as indicated in
the CD's title. They depict ever-lasting love ("Old
Fashioned Love"), lost love ("The You and Me That Used
to Be"), anticipated love ("Meet Me Where They Play
the Blues"), sensual love ("Warm Valley"), etc.
Melissa, favoring the verses, sings every song with deceptive
ease, and creates soft phrases that accurately underscore the
intent of the composers and lyricists.
In her cogent CD notes, she fondly acknowledges her
accompanying musicians -her "dream team." Trombonists
Bill Bardin and Bob Mielke, pianist Ray Skjelbred, and
multi-instrumentalist reedman Richard Hadlock were featured
members of Dick Oxtot's Golden Age Jazz Band.
While attending college in the mid-'70s, at Berkeley,
California, Melissa was hired to play guitar and sing with that
legendary band, and she happily included those colleagues on
this record date. The acclaimed veteran Bay Area jazzmen display
their merits individually and collectively on every
Featured guests, Eddie Erickson and Dan Barrett, are welcomed
additions. Erickson, nimbly switching from guitar to banjo to
ukulele, endows every number with his tasteful individuality.
His intimate vocal duet with Melissa on "Why Don't We Do
This More Often?" ranks among the CD's many
Musical Director Barrett provides his expected magic on
trombone and cornet. He has also deftly created most of these
expressive arrangements which are reminiscent of Teddy Wilson's
insightful backing that introduced Billie Holiday to the world
in the '30s.
Barrett's arrangements cushion the music with a subtle
dramatic lilt, and, where warranted, utilize an occasional ploy
that offers tonal embellishment and vocal support. For example:
his mellow trombone choir (Barrett, with Bill Bardin, and Bob
Mielke) adds style and substance to "Street of
Dreams." On "Meet Me Where They Play the Blues,"
a stop-time pulsation provides the arrangement with subtle
emphasis. Even the venerable "Stardust" appears in a
Bob Wilson and Eddie Erickson's arrangement of Isham Jones'
"I'll See You in My Dreams" is a salute to the great
French guitarist, Django Reinhardt, who recorded the tune in
1939. This is a specially assembled string section - Wilson on
his Selmar guitar (Reinhardt's favorite instrument), Erickson on
his Heritage archtop guitar, co-producer Ray Lansberg on violin,
and Steven Strauss' string bass staunchly supporting the riffing
tribute. Django would have loved this! "
On a Coconut Island" features the only appearance of
steel guitarist Bobby Black adding appropriate Polynesian sounds
to the song Louis Armstrong recorded with a Hawaiian band almost
six decades ago.
Melissa told me that each number relates specifically to an
event in her life. She said, "My CD has a theme of
reminiscing and ruminating over changes in our lives, and how we
come to terms with those events."
She currently is the guitarist-singer with the Fulton Street
Jazz Band in Sacramento, California. Watch for her on the
festival circuit with this very popular group.
Remember the name - Melissa Collard!