When I'm 69 (and Sounding It)
I’ll take issue with at least one assertion of Stephen Holden’s in his New York Times review of Paul McCartney’s new release, Kisses on the Bottom, where he says that Paul’s voice is “almost as youthful as in the Beatles’ glory days.” I beg to differ. It’s not without its charms, but the voice of 69-year-old Sir Paul sounds more like an aging English Music Hall veteran trying out a new show than a mop top from Liverpool.
The new show is a set of standards Paul remembers his parents dancing to in the 40’s and 50’s. Perhaps it’s his association of the tunes with something so personal, not to mention their ties to World War II, that adds a touch of vulnerability to his singing and a feeling of wistfulness to these interpretations. In any case, it’s a different voice than we know from his "glory days," and three of my colleagues, all Beatles fans, drew a blank when I gave them a sample earlier today.
Kisses on the Bottom (Concord Music) is McCartney’s first recording of standards (besides his own, of course), and if it’s OK for jazz musicians to play Beatles tunes, then why shouldn’t he take a shot at Arlen and Berlin and Charles Brown, “Bye Bye Blackbird" and “It’s Only a Paper Moon”? McCartney’s chosen well, not only the material, but his arrangers, Alan Broadbent and Johnny Mandel, and his accompanists, who include Diana Krall, bassist John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton, and guitarists John Pizzarelli, Anthony Wilson, and Eric Clapton. They keep things short, simple and sweet.
We’ll hear a few by Sir Paul in tonight’s Jazz à la Mode and wrap them around jazz takes on Beatles tunes by Brad Mehldau, Ernie Watts, Lee Morgan, Gretchen Parlato, and Toots Thielmans. Tune in and let me know what you think.
Meanwhile, enjoy this film clip of Al Bowlly, the legendary English crooner who toured with Ray Noble's Orchestra and introduced several Noble classics, including this 1933 performance of "The Very Thought of You." Bowlly was killed in The Blitz in 1941. Young Paul probably heard Al Bowlly around the house, and come to think of it, wasn't Paul the real crooner among The Beatles?