Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Curse of the Versatile

Teresa Brewer died last week at the age of 76. Best known for her novelty song "Music, Music, Music" ("Drop another nickel in/in the nickelodeon . . .") Brewer had great substance as a singer that many people missed.

Perhaps it was because she hit her stride in the 1970s—a time when singers in general were marginalized as rock took complete hold of the popular audience. It was during this period that Brewer recorded a series of songbooks that make a nifty companion to those of Ella Fitzgerald.

She and Fitzgerald both becames sensations because of their novelty songs (Ella's was "A-Tisket, A-Tasket"), but while Ella honed her craft in the realm of jazz, Brewer navigated a variety of forms. Scanning her albums, I appreciate the variety of material she sang—ragtime, blues, pop, and jazz.

When she settled into jazz in the '70s, her artistry blossomed. My favorite album of hers was dedicated to Fats Waller. It was recorded with Earl "Fatha" Hines and features a knockout version of "Black and Blue." If you search for one album by Brewer, this is the one to get.

Brewer also recorded with Count Basie and Stephane Grapelli. She also worked with rock and country musicians into the 1980s and 1990s.

Really, to see a prime example of how to sing with VERVE, give Teresa Brewer a listen! You'll be delighted to add her to your iPod!

Here's a link to a video of Teresa Brewer singing a song called "Willy Burgandy" on YouTube.

1 comment:

Julie Zickefoose said...

My very first album was JD's Greatest Hits, with a photo of him smashing a hat down on his head and displaying those amazing teeth. My very first fan letter was to JD, too. As a pre-teen, I responded to the sincerity and purity in his voice and image. Plus, I thought he was adorable. My brother still sings his songs on an old Guild--very well, I'd add. He has been a big part of our lives. This is a great tribute.