Beverley grew up in Montreal and lived right next door to Oscar Peterson. She used to listen to him practice, saying “He gave me a gift without ever knowing it.” She won vocal competitions at the age of 12, having been inspired by Frank Sinatra and Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, and stayed glued to her radio to hear the great vocalists of the era. By her late teens, she had already enjoyed weekly radio gigs and was also performing club dates and “USO-type military shows.”
At the age of 21, she moved to the LA area and landed in Studio City. She got herself a recording contract at Capitol Records. The contract demanded an extensive touring schedule but Beverly was now married and had a one-ear-old baby. She turned down the contract. She never regretted the decision, she says, because she focused on being a wife and mother.
In 2002, 40 years after walking away from a contract, she performed at the Catalina Jazz Club to a full house. She became the headliner for an annual show and has done so ever since. How lucky we are that she decided to return to the stage and bring her own Jazz interpretations with her.
She decided to record an album, her debut, and she brought along the excellent pianist, composer, arranger, and vocalist in his own right, John Proulx. The best choice she could have made. Proulx knows how to get the most out of his subject. To that end, he brought along LA top-call musicians like bassist Lyman Medeiros, drummer Clayton Cameron, and percussionist Kevin Winard, a hot rhythm section, to be sure. On trumpet and flugelhorn is Ron Stout, on guitar Graham Dechter, and reedsman Doug Webb. Barbara Brighton produced the album and she knows how to produce a vocalist.
Beverly says that she chose this set list because it relates to her and to people she associates with the particular songs. She says these songs resonate with her and she resonates with me!
Sorry, but it is impossible for me to be cool and objective with albums that I love. And I love this album.
Can’t Get Out of This Mood opens with Rene Marie’s Take My Breath Away, a tremendous start to a fine album. Medeiros and Cameron give a slow intro and Webb joins in with a sweet flute. John Proulx adds his inimitable piano touch. Then Beverley’s first intonations just wash over you. The arrangement is stellar and has the light bossa nova touch of the original. Beverley is so smooth, so evocative.
Stephen Sondheim’s Losing My Mind follows next. It was a huge hit for Liza Minelli in 1989 but Beverly takes complete possession of it. Graham Dechter adds a coolly rough guitar chop and Ron Stout’s horn is hot. Beverly sings it with a convincing wistfulness that turns into agony.
Bobby Troup’s You’re Looking at Me was covered by Nat “King” Cole and Beverley gives her own turn on the piece. Proulx’s piano, with some excellent work by Dechter, create a laid-back mood that gives space for Beverley’s languid delivery. Beautiful.
Can’t Get Out of This Mood, the title track, is the great Frank Loesser and Jimmy McHugh song that was most notably done by Sarah Vaughan. Proulx’s piano and Stout’s muted trumpet stand out but listen carefully to Medeiros’ subtle bass, as well. Beverley phrases like Billie Holiday (who never recorded the song) and it works so very well.
Rodgers and Hart’s sweet standard Wait Till You See Him is a beautifully melodic piece highlighting Stout’s flugelhorn almost singing in duet with Beverly. Dechter’s guitar has nice touches and the piano, bass, and drums are warm and rapturous. Beverley sings in understated effect to blend with the flugelhorn. Such a warm and welcoming track.
Stout’s horn introduces I Know You by Heart (Chris Caswell) and the piano and horn carry most of the support as Beverley is left to work her magic. Don’t confuse this with the Eva Cassidy song. This is better. Flugelhorn gets the center solo but it’s Beverley’s voice you wait for.
Matty Malneck, Fud Livingston, and Gus Khan’s I'm Through with Love was written in 1931 and has been recorded scores of times by vocalists and instrumentalists alike. It is a smoky, easy-going melancholy that Beverley sings with conviction. Webb’s soprano sax has beautiful moments of sheer lament and Beverley adds her determination on top. She has such exquisite control and compelling emotion.
Speak Low was written by Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash. Beverley sings We're late, darling, we're late but she should know that it was not too late for her to release this gem of a song and album. Webb switches to alto sax and he and Proulx give Beverley the platform that she needs for her expression. The song is about time running out and not wasting the time given us, no matter how late. Dechter gets an excellent guitar solo and then trades off with Webb’s sax for several bars. This was a winner, for sure.
John Proulx wrote Stuck in a Dream with his writing partner K. Lawrence Dunham and it sounds as if it were with Beverley in mind. It opens with just the solo piano and Beverly before the bass and drums jump in for a cool trio. Lyman Medeiros’ bass solo is excellent and Clayton Cameron works subtle but precise drumming below. The piano and guitar bounce the song out to set up the album’s finale.
Time After Time by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne is a beautiful way to end a debut album for a singer who has waited so long to record and release it. This is such a beautiful composition and Beverley sings it as it should be sung with musicians who know how to play it.
And time after time
You'll hear Me say that
I'm So lucky to be loving you
Beverley’s is a voice and a love that we have waited long—even without knowing it—to have in our lives.
We are the lucky ones.
~Travis Rogers, Jr is The Jazz Owlan’t Get Out of This Mood