【Helen Merrill - Lilac Wine】(2004) ★★★★☆



(English follows Japanese)


「NewYorkのため息」と称され、クリフォード・ブラウンとの共演作以来相変わらず素晴らしいPerformanceを聴かせてくれるベテラン・シンガー、Helen Merrillの2004年作品。チェコのプラハで32人編成のストリングス・オーケストラと共演したトラックを中心とする豪華なバラード集です。ジャズのスタンダード曲はほとんどなく、エルヴィス・プレスリーやイヴァン・リンス、レディオヘッドのレパートリーなど選曲の妙味が光ります。ゆったりとした時間の流れの中、けだるく、エモーショナルに歌う彼女の"The World of Helen Merrill"に恍惚とされます。「NewYorkのため息」は健在です。素晴らしい!

(Personnel)
Helen Merrill: vocals except (8)
Torrie Zito: piano (4), electric piano (3,5,6), keyboards (9) and arrangements; 
Lew Soloff: trumpet (2,3,6,9)
George Mraz: double bass except (3)
Alan Merrill: guitar and vocals (9)
32 piece orchestra (except 3)


1. Lilac Wine (James Alan Shelton)
2. Wild Is the Wind (Dimitri Tiomkin / Ned Washington)
3. Pierre
4. Something I Dreamed Last Night (Sammy Fain / Herbert Magidson / Jack Yellen)
5. Love Me Tender/How Sweet You Are (Frank Loesser / Vera Matson / Elvis Presley / Arthur Schwartz)
6. The Island (Ivan Lins)
7. One More Walk Around the Garden (Burton Lane / Alan Jay Lerner)
8. Portrait of Helen Merrill
9. You (Colin Greenwood / Phil Selway / Thom Yorke)

❑ Helen Merrill - Official Website
http://www.helenmerrill.com/

❑ Preview
https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/lilac-wine/id213495840

❑ Buy CD
http://www.amazon.co.jp/Lilac-Wine-Helen-Merrill/dp/B00020W0XS/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1351816495&sr=1-1

❑ Video (Audio)
Helen Merrill - Pierre
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn_aBZG-4KY

[Review]
Listen carefully to Helen Merrill's phrasing as she revisits "Lilac Wine , a song she first recorded in the '50s. "...I think I'm ready for my love... It's her ever-so-delicate emphasis of "ready which makes the impassioned state she's in so clear. Always at her own particular pace and tempo, Merrill's ability to express emotional nuances is an essential element in the alluring mystery of her singing. It feels almost tangible when her voice sounds like a rush of wind as she intones "You're life itself in "Wild is the Wind . She catches the essence of an element of nature as effectively as Debussy did composing "La Mer . She's beautifully complemented in that passage by Lew Soloff's trumpet, for, as throughout her long recording career, Merrill is surrounded here by first-rank musicians such as George Mraz (bass) and Torrie Zito (piano, keyboard, arrangements). Through subtle inflections of her uniquely luminous, sand-sprinkled voice, "It Must Have Been Something I Dreamed Last Night is transformed into a complete, dark symphony of obsessive love. Somewhat muted initially, she sinks into deepening disbelief, ("...oh, no, no, NO!, it can't be right ) and finally descends into a nightmare of utter despair, ("...to go through life without kissing you. ) It's a haunted, haunting performance. Secure in her place in the pantheon of great, creative jazz singers, Lilac Wine is the latest evidence that Merrill's singularly swinging style remains as potent and vibrantly spellbinding as ever.
By ANDREW VELEZ, All About Jazz

True story: Back in the early '90s when New York City's Fat Tuesday's was still going strong on Third Ave., a pal of mine and I dropped by one Tuesday night hoping to catch Helen Merrill's second show. Apart from a trio of Japanese businessmen, the room was empty. Helen was at the bar. Five minutes before the set was scheduled to commence, the businessmen departed. Helen headed for our table, presumably, I thought, to tell us she wasn't about to play to a room with a total of two patrons. Instead, she was the very definition of grace, rather giddily suggesting that since the evening had turned into a private concert, she should sing whatever we'd like to hear. And, indeed she did, filling 45 minutes with all our requests then joining us for a drink and some wistful reminiscences about days when her club dates were strictly SRO. Another true story: a few weeks ago, a pricey import CD I'd ordered of Helen Merrill Sings the Beatles, recorded in 1970 in Tokyo, arrived on my doorstep within minutes of a review copy of Merrill's latest, Lilac Wine (Sunnyside)-a timely reminder, I thought, that Merrill, who started on Mercury in the mid-'50s and sounded better than ever as she navigated the Lennon-McCartney songbook a decade-and-a-half later, is still going strong at age 74. Though time, travel and the occasional tumbler of scotch have all taken their toll on Merrill's hauntingly ethereal whisper, she's a vigorous trooper who's long been deserving of wider recognition in her homeland. (In Japan, where she's lived for long stretches and did much of her mid- and late-career recording, she's properly appreciated for the superlative artist she is.) Like just about every album she's delivered throughout the past quarter-century, Lilac Wine reflects the Cool School grad's multinational dexterousness, extending from hypnotic readings of "Something I Dreamed Last Night" and the Johnny Mathis anthem "Wild Is the Wind" to Ivan Lins' "The Island," Elvis' "Love Me Tender," the rare Burton Lane-Alan Jay Lerner treasure "One More Walk Around the Garden" and the jaunty "Pierre" from Merrill's favorite French songwriter, the first-name-only Barbara. She also pairs with her guitarist son Alan for a rather otherworldly spin through "You." Most intriguing, though, is the one track on which Merrill doesn't sing. The instrumental "Portrait of Helen Merrill," written by Marian McPartland, is a multishaded homage that, simultaneously delicate and robust, dark and bright, seems a fitting salute to Merrill's circuitous, half-century musical journey.
By Christopher Loudon - Jazz Times

Nearly a half-century after she recorded a classic album with trumpeter Clifford Brown, Helen Merrill's voice is still pretty strong. On Lilac Wine she performs a set of melancholy ballads that are heartfelt and lightly swung. Accompanied by a large orchestra from Czechoslovakia that is arranged by Torrie Zito, Merrill interprets all of the material at a slow dreamy tempo. The results are subtle, quietly emotional, and atmospheric. The only real change of pace is Marian McPartland's instrumental "Portrait of Helen Merrill." Otherwise all of the music is taken at the same slow tempo and in a similar mood. Despite the lack of variety, this quiet outing grows in interest with each listen.