In celebration of Cole Porter’s 100th birthday in the early ‘90s, there were several high profile projects released including the launch of the Red Hot series, with RED HOT & BLUE. Clive Davis enrolled Dionne in the possibility of paying homage by recording a complete album of Cole Porter songs. Themed projects of this nature were not unusual in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Artists such as Diana Ross (STOLEN MOMENTS: THE LADY SINGS JAZZ AND BLUES), Linda Ronstadt (the Nelson Riddle trilogy of albums) and Barbara Streisand (THE BROADWAY ALBUM/BACK TO BROADWAY) had tremendous success with these kind of albums. These types of projects were staples of the pre-rock ‘n roll era when contemporary artists would often source the Great American Songbook for inspiration. However, by the ‘70s and early ‘80s, it was rare that such albums would be released.
So opportunity struck with DIONNE WARWICK SINGS COLE PORTER. The production and arrangements are lush and elegant, very true to the essence of Mr. Porter’s style, sophistication and wit. Dionne had dabbled with these kinds of songs, here and there, on various albums in the ‘60s. But unlike Diana Ross and Barbara Streisand, who both had recorded several albums targeted at the Great American Songbook, most of Dionne’s output was from Bacharach/David and/or contemporary Broadway shows. Not surprisingly, Dionne was very much at home with the songs and the arrangements of Cole Porter.
By the mid-‘90s, Dionne designated Brazil as her second home. Having purchased property in Rio de Janeiro, it was befitting that she pay homage to that wonderful country with AQUARELA DO BRASIL (THE COLORS OF BRASIL). Many of her Bacharach/David songs have Latin leanings so she was not in foreign territory with this endeavor. Though she does not speak Portuguese, her diction is near perfect and would fit most appropriately with the Tropicalismo movement of Brazil in the late ‘60s.
“The Jobim Medley” is haunting and alluring and could make Gal Costa, Brazilian Diva, take notice. It opens up the album and takes you away to the beaches of Ipanema in LeBlon or Salvador Bahia. Dionne’s rich tonal quality adds a perfect blend to the title track, “Aquarela do Brasil” with its very simple but familiar chorus of “Brasil, Brasil... I will return to ole Brasil”. The percussion and added sound effects transports one to the center of Pelourinho where one can sip Caprihinas as one recalls the historical nature of their surroundings. The music was recorded in Brazil with some of its world renowned musicians like Dori Caymmi and Oscar Castro-Neves to give an aura of authenticity.
On “10,000 Words”, you can almost imagine a Quincy Jones-like production with lilting choruses against choreographed brass arrangements. That same feel runs through “Piano Na Manqueira” as Dionne duets in Portuguese with seemingly little effort.
She shines on a more contemporary version of “Begin the Beguine”. She does a fairly straightforward take on “I’ve Got You Under My Spell” that is no less appealing. Two separate versions of “Night and Day” showcase the different directions the project had taken along the way. The original mixes and production were done by Arif Mardin. Stanley Clarke was brought in for a jazzier feel as demonstrated on “Night and Day” (jazz version). Preferable are the more traditional arrangements as perfectly articulated on “I Love Paris”. So, pop a special bottle of bubbly and light candles against a glittering skyline... just the way that Mr. Porter would have envisioned.
This CD is perfect for a romantic evening that ends up with promises to a lover for an even more romantic tryst in Sao Paulo while samba dancing to a Latin-tinged “I Get a Kick Out of You”.
K. Bonin has worked in the music industry for the last three decades. He describes himself as "a child of Motown and the classic rock era." Having spent the balance of his career at Arista Records, his experience and passion gives him a unique perspective on music and the music industry. Kirk can be contacted via email at email@example.com
About the Writer
K. Bonin has worked in the music industry for the last three decades. He describes himself as "a child of Motown and the classic rock era." Having spent the balance of his career at Arista Records, his experience and passion gives him a unique perspective on music and the music industry.