Summary : It is good to know that with the likes of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies working on it, swinging jazz, old and new, is in good hands.
Capturing the musical vibe of a bygone generation, even when done well, isn’t always a step up the ladder of success. Any relic of the past still around is just as likely to line up what you do against their own fond memories of the past, and find you wanting, while those who have no memories more than likely couldn’t care less. There will be those who think of you as little more than a pale imitation or a hapless impersonator, at best. There will be those who find any attempt to make changes and rejuvenate the music nothing short of sinful. Still, do it well, and there will always be an audience—perhaps not a mass audience, but an audience nonetheless. And if one thing is sure, when it comes to the swinging jazz of the ’50s and ’60s, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies do it well.
Witness their latest album Please Return the Evening: The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies Salute the Music of the Rat Pack. The Daddies’ salute does not go the imitation route. Steve Perry, one of the band’s co-founders and an impressive vocalist, sings a bevy of rat pack standards, but he does it in his own way. He doesn’t do imitation Sammy or Dean, and he certainly doesn’t do imitation Frank. If he lacks something in rat pack cache, he makes up for it with talent. This is a man who can swing, and if he isn’t Sinatra, well, who is?
He is accompanied by the Daddies’ regular eight-piece crew, supplemented by a crew of six additional musicians on most tracks. Together, they create a sound that will have aged feet tapping as they romp through a 15-tune set of some of the finest tunes ever written: Cahn and Van Heusen’s “Come Fly with Me,” Rodgers and Hart’s “The Lady Is a Tramp,” Kern and Fields’ “The Way You Look Tonight.” For many, these are the songs of their youth, the songs they danced to when they fell in and out of love. “The Best Is Yet to Come,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” – no matter how many times you hear them, you are always happy to hear them again. And for those who weren’t around, it’s about time they learned what they were missing. That, after all, is what Daddies should do: teach their children well.
If, like me, you have Sirius set on 71, “Siriusly Sinatra,” you’ve long been listening to these tunes from the source, but for music to remain relevant, it needs to grow and flower. It needs to be tended to and nurtured. It is good to know that with the likes of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies working on it, swinging jazz, old and new, is in good hands.
Photo credit: wowhall.org
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