Clark Warren

Lucky So and So

Right at the top, in his liner notes, veteran crooner Clark Warren says, “I enjoy uncovering and performing seldom heard songs.” That neatly sums up this interesting collection of rarely-heard selections by a senior who still has enough pepper to have a good time, understand the lyric and convey the meaning of it all. In a raspy, lived-in baritone, he repeatedly unleashes a man of a certain age who loves a song with good lyrics. Warren brings substance to whatever he sings on this disc. In doing so, he strikes a heartfelt chord that younger singers might learn from.

A regular on the cabaret scene for decades now, fused with a longer history of entertaining as part of the Third Army Special Services performing all over the country while serving in the military, Warren recalls the days of the boy singer who grew up with the sounds of the big band. At times, he also recalls an aged-in-wood Dick Haymes in his careful phrasing. This rmelancholic CD defines a calm, know-ledgeable man comfortable in his own skin. And, he makes it worthwhile.

With an assist from his terrific jazzy collaborators on—Franklin Underwood on piano, Jeff Mironov on guitar, Jennifer Vincent, acoustic bass/cello and Phil Stewart on drums—this album is a keeper for all the right reasons. Warren is no Tony Bennett and doesn’t try to be. In fact, he doesn’t try to be anybody he isn’t. At an age when others might just play golf or lay on the sofa, Clark Warren steps up to the plate and knocks it home in an imperfect, albeit effective, laid back voice that breathes life into these well chosen gems. And, he makes them his own. It’s inspiring and endearing as is this album.

There are many highlights worth citing, from the beautiful “Gently,” the album’s first cut by Lindy Robbins and Billy Stritch, to the sentimental closer, “Early to Bed,” an exceptional choice written by Underwood and the late Richard Rodney Bennett. Both gems deserve their place in today’s contemporary repertoire. In between, he emotes personal touches on “I Love My Wife” (from I Do, I Do) with brio. He personalizes the opening verse on the romantic Cahn/Van Heusen “I Like to Lead When I Dance” and offers a solid treatment on Jobim’s tricky “Desafinado.” (Portugese lyrics: Newton Mendonça; English lyrics: Jon Hendricks.) A serious highlight is an expressive reading of Joe Raposo’s “There Used to Be a Ball Park,” originally recorded by Sinatra in the mid-seventies that has recently found its way into some cabaret acts. He also adds the rarely heard verse to Frank Loesser’s “Inchworm.” The album becomes a timeline of romantic and humorous musings by a veteran with the right panache. Like crooners from the past, his respect for lyrics and the American Songbook are his calling card and well worth the listen.

John Hoglund
Cabaret Scenes
February 1, 2013
www.cabaretscenes.org