New album I Get a Kick out of YouRelease 1 december 2023
Encore Music | Released on 01.12.2023
This album has its roots in New York, where I was taking some classes at The New School university one hot summer. What better place for an aspiring singer-songwriter to soak up the essence of things than New York?
Showman’s, Smoke, Birdland, and the Off- and On-Broadway theaters where new forms of music and entertainment were trying to make their way. I saw, listened to, and admired Randy Newman, Liza Minnelli, Tony Bennett, and Michael Feinstein.
One hot Sunday afternoon, despite all the craziness, urgency, and effervescence, I felt as if the city had come to a standstill. It was about to rain, a storm was rumbling over the towers and their lonely walls, and nothing was moving, even in Central Park.
From a small café on the corner of 57th and Broadway rose a Cole Porter melody. A few lines presented themselves to me: Sunday in New York, the rain before it falls, no one’s going to the park, a Yiddish band plays Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, a drunken homeless journalist, a horde of Chinese bumblebees, the piano plays a Porter tune, at the Waldorf Astoria tea salon… I jotted them down in a notebook, not knowing what to do with them at the time.
The following Monday, a friend took me to The Village Vanguard, where the big band played “Anything Goes”, by Cole Porter again. A few years later, when I moved to another home, I stumbled upon these lines and others: “Sunday in New York”, “Hotel Amour” and “Take Me Home”. I’d worked Cole Porter down to the last detail and listened to the big bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman over and over again. It all seemed to come full circle.
I was missing one element, a partner, until I came across a drummer in a Paris club. As we chatted in the bar after the concert, we discovered that we shared the same inspirations. The idea was there: the big band, Cole Porter, and the lyrics for new songs.
It has taken me two years to bring together what I consider to be some of the finest young talent who perceive the phrasing necessary for this kind of music. The title “I Get a Kick Out of You”, by Cole Porter, of course, is also a personal dedication to New York, Paris, and the talented musicians involved.
When we talk about American music as our country’s gift to the rest of the world, we’re generally referring to two closely related forms, jazz and the Great American Songbook. But in listening to this exciting new album from the excellent European singer Frederik Steenbrink, I’m struck by how these two bodies of music jointly transcend the generations as well as the continents.
In the hands of the Dutch-born, Paris-based singer, writer, composer and entertainer Frederik Steenbrink, the two forms are not only thriving, but continue to work together, each complementing and supporting the other. As rendered by Mr. Steenbrink and orchestrated by the talented arranger and drummer Philippe Maniez – and played by an ace big band featuring many of the best jazz players in Paris – these well-known songs of the ‘30s and ‘40s sound both classic and contemporary.
The format here reminds me of a classic album by the late Mel Tormé titled My Kind of Music. This 1961 release consisted of half classic songs by the great Broadway tunesmiths Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, while the other half was original songs by Mel himself. Frederik employs a variation on that idea here: half of the songs are by one of the great icons of popular songwriting, the legendary Cole Porter, which alternate with worthwhile originals by Frederik and Phil.
Of the Porter songs, Frederik and the band do a particularly outstanding job with “Love for Sale”; it’s the rare male singer who delivers that once-controversial song exactly as written. “You’re the Top” is a welcome duet with Frederik’s longtime singing partner, the formidable Isabelle Georges. I’m also particularly taken with “Anything Goes”, which features an impressive baritone saxophone solo by Balthazar Naturel.
The original numbers are also noteworthy; “Stains of Love” is a highly original list song set in a lilting yet swinging pattern, “Sunday in New York” is something very interesting indeed; it’s an upbeat, hard-swinging number, yet the lyrics and the story they tell is precisely the opposite of what you’d expect – In direct contrast to the melody, it’s a surprisingly melancholy and downbeat tale of two lovers, not meeting, but rather breaking up. This album proves that great American music is alive and well, all over the world.
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The New York Stage Review and other publications. He is the author of ten books, including the award-winning A Biographical Guide To The Great Jazz And Pop Singers, Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer’s Art, Tony Bennett: The Good Life, and Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received eleven Grammy nominations and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also consultant and curator for Apple Music.
Artistic direction Isabelle Georges & Frederik Steenbrink. Musical direction & drums Philippe Maniez. All songs arranged by Philippe Maniez except (5) Bastien Ballaz. Piano Noé Huchard (1, 3, 5, 7, 9 & 12), Maxime Sanchez (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11 & 13). Double bass Viktor Nyberg. Guitare Vladimir Médail. Trumpet & flugelhorn Julien Ecrepont, Malo Mazurié & Thomas Mestres. Alto saxophone & flute Pascal Mabit. Tenor saxophone, clarinet & flute Adrien Sanchez. Tenor saxophone & clarinet Corentin Giniaux. Baritone saxophone & bass clarinet Balthazar Naturel. Trombone Loïc Bachevillier, Balthazar Bodin. Bass trombone Luca Spiler. You’re the Top is performed in duet with Isabelle Georges.
All original songs: Music Frederik Steenbrink & Philippe Maniez. Lyrics Frederik Steenbrink
Recorded at Studio de Meudon on 18 & 19 May and 20 November 2023 by Sami Bouvet assisted by Aurélien Marotte and Sofiane Mekdoud-Sion. And BB24 Studio, Paris on 9, 12, 15, 23, 25 & 31 May & 5, 6 & 14 June 2023 by Julien Clarac and Romain Burgeat. Mix and mastering in Dolby Atmos Surround at Labomatic Studios by Dominique Blanc-Francard. Photography by Renaud Corlouër at Studio Guillaume Tell. Design by Stéphane Kerrad, KB Studios, Paris. Produced by Encore Music. Made in France by MPO
Encore Music | Released on 01.12.2023
Just One of Those Things
Stains of Love
I Get a Kick Out of You
Sunday in New York
I Concentrate on You
Love for Sale
Nowhere at All
You’re the Top
Take Me Home