In The Still Of The Night

Audio Reviews – February 2018

In The Still Of The Night

In the Still of the Night: The Music of Cole Porter. Calabria Foti, vocals; Michael Patterson, piano; Eddie Daniels, clarinet; Gene Bertoncini, guitar; Richard Locker, cello; Bob McChesney, trombone; Ike Sturm, bass; Jared Schonig, drums. C. Porter: Just One of Those Things, Miss Otis Regrets, Anything Goes, What Is This Thing Called Love?, Night and Day, I Concentrate on You, Every Time We Say Goodbye, Get Out of Town, It’s All Right With Me, So In Love and In the Still of the Night. MoCo Records MOCO 23-05. Total time 49:00. Amazon and iTunes
In the Still of the Night, though billed as vocalist Calabria Foti’s album, is a feature for her produced and arranged by the session’s pianist, Michael Patterson. Foti sings through eleven works by Cole Porter, backed throughout by a tight, hip rhythm section. Relief is provided with virtuosic wind solos by clarinetist Eddie Daniels and trombonist Bob McChesney (Foti’s husband), and the occasional intro or coda played by cellist Richard Locker.
The entire ensemble sustains tasteful musicality, cohesiveness, and sensuality throughout the recording. Foti’s melodic statements are true to the original melodies, with her embellishments being merely sonic (different amounts of breathiness) or microtonal inflection (scoops, falls, subtle vibrato): ornamentations and style rather than full-on improvisation or re-composition. This basic approach displays her beautiful, full sound. Likewise, the rhythm section plays so tightly that it is difficult to decipher, at most times, when the rhythm section is just blowing on chord slashes versus reading written and preplanned hits, figures, intros, interludes, and codas. Patterson’s brilliant voicings and touch on the piano often steal the show for me.
The entire album focuses on a soft-toned romantic mood, sometimes creating interpretations surprisingly different from how some of these tunes are often played. For example, Just One of Those Things and What Is This Thing Called Love? are usually played as up-tempo burners. However, 80 percent of this album is in either ballad or soft bossa nova style. A sensuality is provided by a breathy softness clearly celebrated by nearly all present – Calabria’s breathy singing, the sub tone of Daniels’ clarinet, and the masterful use of brushes by drummer Jared Schonig. Thankfully, there is some relief to this one-tracked mindedness. Daniels and McChesney’s solos are often the high point of energy for the selections they blow on, seeming like the only free agents of the recording date. Groove and dynamic wise, there are a few moments of medium swing, a few moments of a slightly louder dynamic, and a nice, deliberate three-against-four groove during the A sections of “So In Love.” Additionally, the use of cello adds a lovely, complimentary texture to the album. The album even ends with cello and piano alone. These touches of variety help relieve the listener from getting disinterested with the project.
For readers of The Clarinet, this album presents another opportunity to celebrate the great jazz clarinetist Eddie Daniels. His voice as an improviser is an interesting mix of vocabulary and mannerisms from earlier phases in his career (as evidenced in his recorded body of work)—the early, combative tenor sax style mixing the roar of Rollins, the density of Coltrane, and the soft moments of Getz; the virtuosic classical clarinet showcases; the fusion and smooth jazz tinged GRP era clarinet and Brecker-ish saxophone; the increasing frequency of Goodman repertoire interpretation and re-interpretation; and the recent obsession with softness—like with Ricardo Morales—especially with any ascension into clarion or altissimo registers. Staying true to the surroundings provided by the sidemen here, Daniels’ approach is on the soft side, in a similar vein to his Beautiful Love, balanced with a more aggressive articulation at times, like on his Swing Low, Sweet Clarinet album. He usually tongues every note in triplet lines and tongues every-second-note in sixteenth lines. His harmonic vocabulary is very careful and voice leading oriented here, with a few contemporary devices used (diminished scale vocabulary, a few quartal shapes, etc). His GRP side can be heard when he plays a finger swoop up into a high note with fast vibrato. His most clarinet-centric vocabulary is that which is shared by most classically-trained jazz clarinetists throughout the music’s history, making it difficult to say whether it’s an influence from the likes of Goodman, or a more universal influence from etudes, etc. These devices are mostly oscillations, or even calls and responses, between registers or the hands. For example, as often used by Goodman, repeating the same riff or melodic cell, changing the octave registration upon each sounding. The trills and staccatos he occasionally uses would be another example of a more clarinet-oriented approach. My favorite moment of Daniels’ clarinet, on this album, is his beautiful sub tone during his solo on So In Love.
Bob McChesney is the perfect match for Eddie Daniels. He could easily be seen as the “Eddie Daniels of the trombone.” They are both known for having brought technical and modernistic legitimacy to their instruments in post-bebop jazz circles: both instruments being too often typecast as belonging exclusively to the genres of dixieland and swing. On this album, they both bring much needed momentum to the songs when the listener starts to tire of hearing another ballad or bossa nova. They would make a great team and should do a collaboration of their own someday.
All in all, In the Still of the Night is a perfect album for a quiet evening in, or for slow dancing. No one on the album gets in the way of this mood and the album is a success in cohesive beauty. This is a beautiful showcase for all involved, and a new presentation of Cole Porter works worthy of attention and praise.
Joseph Howell

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