As always, Rebecca has that smooth and nimble voice that allows her to interpret so much of the Great American Songbook. With The Rebecca Kilgore Trio-Volume 1, she and pianist extraordinaire Randy Porter and bassist Tom Wakeling offer their take on works from Duke Ellington to Rodgers & Hart to Dr. Seuss. And they just nail all of the 13 songs on the album. Coronet player Dick Titterington joins them on two of the songs.
Here’s the thing about the song selection: while written by composers of standards, the songs themselves are not all that well known but Rebecca and the guys should change all of that. I found myself humming the Dr. Seuss/Frederick Hollander tune Because We’re Kids.
Dear Bix opens the album. Written by Frishberg, it is an imaginary talk between Bix Beiderbecke and Hoagy Carmichael. Eddie Condon once described the Bix sound with “Beiderbecke took out a silver cornet. He put it to his lips and blew a phrase. The sound came out like a pretty girl saying yes.” Hoagy Carmichael named his son Hoagy Bix. That is the relationship and the impact of these two greats and Frishberg captures it all so well. But when Rebecca and the fellas work it over, it reaches new heights. Here’s one of those that should become a standard.
Johnny Mercer’s Day In – Day Out is a swinging piece in which Rebecca just turns on the charm. Then Dick Titterington’s cornet introduces Somebody Just Like You. Wakeling gets a sweet and low solo that pairs so well with Porter’s piano. Randy Porter is one of the top-tier in-demand musicians and you get to find out why on this, and every, track on the album.
Talking to Myself About You is a gorgeous piece and one of my very favorites on the album. The song’s is written by Rebecca Kilgore herself and she delivers on both fronts—compositional and performance. I Wanna Get Married is just as fetching and Porter is the perfect partner for her here.
Titterington returns for Like the Brightest Star and plays well with Porter and Wakeling. The Gentleman is a Dope is by Rodgers & Hammerstein from the 1947 musical Allegro. There are only two recordings of that musical and the show itself was not well-received. Credit goes to Rebecca for finding this little-known beauty that the Trio takes into their ownership.
Rodgers and his other partner Lorenz Hart penned There’s a Small Hotel for the 1936 musical On Your Toes. It became a movie in 1939. The 1983 revival racked up a dozen awards. Again, the Trio works their own magic on the piece and give us a beauty of a rendition.
In 1953, the film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T was released. It was the only feature film written by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) who wrote the lyrics to Because We’re Kids. The opening stanza sings:
Now just because we're kids
Because we're sorta small
Because we're closer to the ground
And you're bigger pound by pound
You have no right
You have no right
To push and shove us little kids around.
Porter paints a beautiful picture as Rebecca washes over it with those gorgeous vocals.
Rebecca proves over and again that she can be funny and cool, sultry and warm. She can do it all and Porter and Wakeling are her willing accomplices in the merry-making. The Rebecca Kilgore Trio-Volume 1 is the latest in what we love about the charming singer—wit and warmth with so much intuition as to exactly what a song needs to enlighten and enliven the hearer.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl