Pam Brennan: Moonglow

by Bea Willis

Pam Brennan is a relatively unknown name in the jazz genre, but one that should with Moonglow begin to show luster.  Tackling the Great American Songbook, Brennan has an easy on the ears approach.  Sticking to the original arrangements, mostly – the vocalist and her ensemble negotiate through eleven golden era nuggets with inordinate result.

“Let’s get Lost” is a highlight on the disc, always closely associated with trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker, who also offered an unaffected way about his singing. Brennan similarly is not into the histrionics of vocalizing, she sticks to the beauty of the lyric and the melody and pays it great homage. Her voice is soft and subtle yet filled with restrained excitement and buoyancy.  I think Jimmy McHugh and Frank Loesser would have been quite thrilled with her respectful rendition.

I have always loved the tune “Make Someone Happy,” from the musical Do Re Mi written by Jule Styne.  Brennan offers up a melancholy reading, reflecting the struggle of life that includes the pursuit of love. The ensemble is inspired on this cut.  Pianist Ken Ascher is melodic in his approach, serving the songs beauty, while drummer Tony Tedesco offers a light and supportive approach, again serving the vocalist and the tune, the highlight on this track is the subtlety of colorization, provided by guitarist Ron Affif, always the consummate go to guy in New York.

What Brennan brings to the table is not an earth-shattering new approach, but a delightful reading of the old classics, her vocal style is not contrived or pushed into being something its not. The classics suit perfectly here and its evident Brennan has an affinity for them, you can hear the love in her voice and the conviction in hear heart, which leave the listener all the better for it.

Tracks to sample first: “Moonglow,” “Just One of Those Things” and “I Hear Music.” The song to take a chance on is “Make Someone Happy.”

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