CD REVIEW: Harry Schulz - Havin' a Ball
By Ben Ohmart - 05/28/2001 - 12:27 PM EDT
Artist: Harry Schulz
Album: Havin' a Ball
Harry grew up in NYC where he took to old Fred Astaire and jazz records, even teaching himself a guttural Louis Armstrong singing style. You have all the clues. Now figure out the mystery of the tracks.
It’s a cd of standards of course! Flirting with Harry Connick Jr.’s style of crooning the big band days back, Harry must content himself with a trio of supporting talent: Andy Fite on guitar, Rich Califano on bass and Roger Mancuso on drums. Harry Schulz then supplies the glue of a voice that’s not as soft as Sinatra or Como, but frankly, he sounds more like a Broadway stage voice than a ‘regular’ album singer.
Indeed, the few original tracks here, written by singer and guitarist, display a catchy, internal rhyme lyricism that makes it a pleasure to quote. Take these words from the opening ‘Havin’ a Ball’ – ‘I’m fine, that’s “simply divine” / To whit, the world is mine - / My oyster, my “erster” / For better or worst or for / What it is worth, I’m investing in mirth / And distributing it for free / You may recall, I’m Havin’ a Ball.’
Seems that when you live in NYC, you become a much better lyricist. And in between these self-penned musicals come Gershwin tunes like ‘Embraceable You’ and ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me.’ And standards like ‘All of Me’ and the perfect ballad, ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.’
The quest of this 12 track, 50-some minute cd is intimacy. Harry and Co. aren’t revving up to beat MCA and the like. It is a disc made of spit polish and homemade goodness. A simple combo unit that does quite well for what it is. Fite finds himself with a fair amount of guitar solos, the best of which could be in ‘Foolin’ Myself.’ There’s nothing show-off about the release as a whole. It has the dinner club stamp of: entertainment for it’s own sake, which is as noble a reason as anything else you’re likely to brainstorm.
For me personally, my favorite track is the last, ‘I’ll Remember April.’ It’s the first cover I’ve ever heard of this since having seen the Abbott and Costello movie, Ride ‘Em Cowboy, from which it came. Seen the film many times, and I must admit, it’s quite a good re-release of one of the all-time best swoon songs. Granted, you can’t swoon to this, but when Mancuso and Fite get together on the instrumental portion, you sure can swing!
Harry has style, and has picked his songs with care and sometimes brilliance. He also has that rare ability to take you back, no matter where you’re standing at the moment, and, if you’re not too full up on mega-million dollar shows, you can have quite a good time when you get there.
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