As I have mentioned in my recent posts, I am commemorating the one-year anniversary of the recording sessions for All My Life, A Tribute to Alan and Marilyn Bergman. In my newsletter today, I have invited the producer of this project, Roger Spencer (who is also my husband) to share his reflections on the production of this album. – love, Lori.
One of the many myths about jazz is that technique always triumphs over everything else. There are just as many masterpieces in the music where delicacy and restraint were as important, if not more so, than volume, speed, and intensity. That is clearly the case with the immaculately crafted release “All Of My Life – A Tribute to Alan and Marilyn Bergman.”
While jazz musicians pride themselves on their ability to rework standards in rigorous and memorable fashion, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the value of understatement, the importance of building tension, and the art of storytelling through the careful union of disciplined prowess and imaginative execution.
But that’s precisely what happens throughout all 14 songs on this homage to a duo whose lyrics have been the template for numerous classic tunes featured in plays and films. The task vocalist Sandra Dudley and pianist Lori Mechem tackled was doing familiar, beloved tunes in a way that celebrated the songs rather than performances, yet still presenting them with the flair and zest that’s always an important part of the jazz equation.
Sandra’s approach is consistently masterful. She can be forceful or serene, sentimental or edgy, and she makes numbers like “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?,” “The Summer Knows,” “You Must Believe In Spring,” and “Moonlight” seem more like personal signature compositions than interpretations.
Lori’s role as lone accompanist and instrumental support is equally crucial, because she’s responsible for the musical buttress underneath. Her playing is elegant when necessary, consistently assertive, but never to the point of upsetting the dynamics or taking attention away from Sandra’s delivery. There’s an art to knowing what to play, when to insert it, and how much is needed behind a singer at key moments, and Lori provides all that and more.
Just getting co-operation and input from Alan and Marilyn Bergman alone is a major endorsement. But Sandra and Lori have made this disc not just an impressive chronicle of their greatness as lyricists, but provided a wonderful present for anyone who enjoys great music performed without excess or egotism.
I very much enjoyed the process of producing All My Life. I consider it one of the high points of my career and I hope it enhances the life of all who listen to it. Thank you for giving it a listen.
All the best,