by Rob Lester
featuring CHRIS ROTTMAYER (piano)
SO IN LOVE
Timucua Arts Foundation
On CD and digital
For a collection titled for a memorable Cole Porter song, what do you do for an encore after nailing the number with panache in an ingratiating groove? In the release called So in Love, singer Ashley Locheed and the top-drawer trio led by pianist Chris Rottmayer have an answer that works well: Just to do it a second time in an even cooler way and make the love last half a minute longer. Bookending their 11-track treat with the Kiss Me, Kate declaration of ardor, the in-between stuff is more than mere filler. We’re served a satisfying sandwich of songs with multiple flavors.
Among the items is a second sampling of Cole Porter: his “I Love Paris” from the 1953 Broadway production of Can-Can, set in that city. The enthused valentine to the locale as experienced in each season of the year offers a welcome surprise bonus the first time you hear this piece that’s almost four minutes long: Although not indicated in the song list (and the CD packaging has no liner notes), it’s so good to find the group segueing into “C’est si bon” with much joy. The latter is one of three selections that have a short title in a foreign language while everything else is sung in English. The others are another French standby, “La vie en rose,” and the percolating Brazilian “Agua de Beber.”
The two last-mentioned tracks have feisty arrangements by the trio’s electric bass player, Chuck Archard. Other settings are credited to the pianist. The instrumental group was completed by the late drummer Keith Wilson, to whose memory the recording is dedicated. Ashley Locheed has a likably breezy manner in some of her singing, seemingly in a no-sweat comfort zone in the quicker-tempoed jazzy jaunts. So, the refreshingly reflective and vulnerable sides shown a bit later might find a listener caught off guard but grateful. Two items taken at slower pace than we usually hear them make them resonate more deeply and bring extra admiration for their already brooding, literate lyrics. One is the Academy Award-winning “The Windmills of Your Mind,” which becomes less overwhelmingly about the trademark swirling, whirling Michel Legrand melody when the relaxed pace puts the spotlight on the words that aren’t just close relatives to the “circle” concept. (Regrettably, only Legrand is listed and not those masterful married wordsmiths Marilyn and Alan Bergman; “Agua de Beber” likewise only credits composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, not Norman Gimbel who penned the English lyric—or, for that matter, the writer of the original Portuguese lyric, Vinicius de Moraes.)
Another great case of slow-burning embers lets in the regrets and sadness not fully on display in “Summer Wind” when sung with less rue or regret by Frank Sinatra or its lyricist, Johnny Mercer (composer: Heinz Meier, originally with a German lyric). The loneliness due to a lover leaving and summer, autumn, and winter all having gone by is palpable and poignant. Mercer is also in the mix for his collaboration with Rube Bloom, “Day In, Day Out.” Like everything here, it’s a pleasing treatment of an established song. It took a while for me to get to this release from last year, but that delay pales in comparison to the gap between recording and release. Like another Locheed/Rottmayer release that came out last year, it was actually recorded back in 2011. I don’t know the cause for delay, but good things are worth waiting for, and So in Love is a good thing.