[Dixielandjazz] Cd Review - Melissa Collard, by Floyd Levin

Robert S. Ringwald robert at ringwald.com
Sat Dec 11 10:41:37 PST 2004

            **********  A CD Review by Floyd Levin  **********


(1) I've Had My Moments; (2) Song of the Wanderer; (3) The You and Me That
Used to Be; (4) Old Fashioned Love; (5) Meet Me Where They Play the Blues;
(6} Nevertheless I'm in Love With You; (7) On a Coconut Island; (8) Warm
Valley; (9) When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful; (10) Street of Dreams;
(11) I'll See You in My Dreams; (12) Stardust; (13 Why Don't We Do This
More Often?; (14) Back in Your Own Backyard (62:13)

Melissa Collard (vo); Dan Barrett (co/tb); Bill Bardin, Bob Mielke, (tb)
Richard Hadlock (reeds); Ray Landberg (vi); Ray Skjelbred (p); Steven
Strauss, (b); Eddie Erickson (gu/bj/uk/vo/) Bob Wilson, Bobby Black (gu),
                  Berkeley, California April 9 & 10, 2004
                    (Melismatic Recordings - MR CD101)

                       Available @$15.00 + $3.00 S&H
       From: Melismatic Records, Box 19024, Sacramento CA 95819-0024

    Although Melissa Collard has been a professional singer for many
years, her name might not be familiar to some Classic Jazz fans - but,
when they hear this, the lady's first CD, her considerable vocal skills
will become vividly apparent.
   Those skills are enhanced by her choice of material, an excellent
assembly of eleven empathetic sidemen, and an array of brilliant
arrangements designed to frame her mood and style.
    Melissa has selected a fresh batch of superb songs for this CD.  Some
are tunes you probably have not heard in a long time, and some that you
might never have heard before.
   The CD's song list is a compelling reminder of leading pop lyricists'
skillful way with words - like Gus Kahn ("I've Had My Moments" and "I'll
See You in My Dreams"), Bert Kalmar ("Nevertheless I'm in Love With You"),
Mitchell Parish ("Stardust"),  etc.  Melissa, capably handling the
musical and emotional elements of these songs, depicts the meaningful
lyrics with great perception.
   Each number, in its own way, is a love song as indicated in the CD's
title. They depict ever-lasting love ("Old Fashioned Love"), lost love
("The You and Me That Used to Be"), anticipated love ("Meet Me Where They
Play the Blues"), sensual love ("Warm Valley"), etc.  Melissa, favoring
the verses, sings every song with deceptive ease, and creates soft phrases
that accurately underscore the intent of the composers and lyricists.
   In her cogent CD notes, she fondly acknowledges her accompanying
musicians -her "dream team." Trombonists Bill Bardin and Bob Mielke,
pianist Ray Skjelbred, and multi-instrumentalist reedman Richard Hadlock
were featured members of Dick Oxtot's Golden Age Jazz Band.
   While attending college in the mid-'70s, at Berkeley, California,
Melissa was hired to play guitar and sing with that legendary band, and
she happily included those colleagues on this record date. The acclaimed
veteran Bay Area jazzmen display their merits individually and
collectively on every selection.
    Featured guests, Eddie Erickson and Dan Barrett, are welcomed
additions.  Erickson, nimbly switching from guitar to banjo to ukulele,
endows every number with his tasteful individuality. His intimate vocal
duet with Melissa on "Why Don't We Do This More Often?" ranks among the
CD's many highlights.
    Musical Director Barrett provides his expected magic on trombone and
cornet.  He has also deftly created most of these expressive arrangements
which are reminiscent of Teddy Wilson's insightful backing that introduced
Billie Holiday to the world in the '30s.
    Barrett's arrangements cushion the music with a subtle dramatic lilt,
and, where warranted, utilize an occasional ploy that offers tonal
embellishment and vocal support. For example: his mellow trombone choir
(Barrett, with Bill Bardin, and Bob Mielke) adds style and substance to
"Street of Dreams." On "Meet Me Where They Play the Blues," a stop-time
pulsation provides the arrangement with subtle emphasis. Even the
venerable "Stardust" appears in a distinctive conception.
    Bob Wilson and Eddie Erickson's  arrangement of Isham Jones' "I'll See
You in My Dreams" is a salute to the great French guitarist, Django
Reinhardt, who recorded the tune in 1939. This is a specially assembled
string section - Wilson on his Selmar guitar (Reinhardt's favorite
instrument), Erickson on his Heritage archtop guitar, co-producer Ray
Lansberg on violin, and Steven Strauss' string bass staunchly supporting
the riffing tribute.  Django would have loved this!
   "On a Coconut Island" features the only appearance of steel guitarist
Bobby Black adding appropriate Polynesian sounds to the song Louis
Armstrong recorded with a Hawaiian band almost six decades ago.
   Melissa told me that each number relates specifically to an event in
her life.  She said, "My CD has a theme of reminiscing and ruminating over
changes in our lives, and how we come to terms with those events."
    She currently is the guitarist-singer with the Fulton Street Jazz Band
in Sacramento, California. Watch for her on the festival circuit with this
very popular group.
    Remember the name - Melissa Collard! 

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