January 22, 2007
reputation is intertwined with that of his early
a vocalist more in the cabaret tradition, also known for an
Ford clearly takes inspiration performing in Weill's native Germany backed up by the German WDR Big Band, one of the best bands in Europe. The great jazz pianist Roger Kellaway wrote most of the arrangements, giving a jazz feel to some of the tunes. This is particularly strong on "One Life to Lead" with lyrics by Gershwin, which even features some scattish vocalizing over William Artope's trumpet.
"My Ship," also from Lady in the Dark, Weill's Broadway collaboration with Gershwin and Moss Hart, is a beautiful ballad feature for Ford with simple but elegant piano accompaniment from John Boswell. It is also interesting to hear Ford singing the alienation and blues of Hughes' "Lonely House" and effectively rising to the concluding emotional crescendo.
Indeed, Ford has a strong voice that is never overwhelmed by the orchestra on tunes like the opener "I'm a Stranger Here Myself." Ford handles the lowdown brass voicings of Kellaway's arrangement, as well as Odgen Nash's suggestive lyrics quite well on another standout tune that would be of strong interest to jazz listeners.
Kurt Weill is set for another Broadway revival. LoveMusik a musical directed
by Harold Prince, dramatizing Weill's relationship with Lotte Lenya and
featuring his songs, is scheduled to debut soon. Those Broadway patrons
would certainly also enjoy Ford's Weill. It is clearly an independently
conceived self-contained project, which straddles cabaret and big band
vocals in a way that could appeal to a wide theater-going audience. The
result is a well-selected set of Weill songs (no "Mack the Knife"-too
obvious) that showcases Ford's voice and gives a deeper appreciation for
the breadth of Weill's compositions for musical theater.