Fly Me to the Moon

by: Michael Feinstein

Michael Feinstein says that he first noticed Joe Negri's guitar style while working with the Pittsburgh Symphony, leading to an invitation to accompany the singer on this album. Usually, Feinstein plays piano on his discs, but this recording finds him using only Negri and a rhythm section of Jay Leonhart (bass) and Joe Cocuzzo, who drop out on several tracks, leaving just the singer and guitarist. The songs have been chosen with the instrumentation in mind, such that they are all romantic ballads, some well known and others more obscure, but all from the Great American Songbook and featuring such writers as Harold Arlen, Leonard Bernstein, Sammy Cahn, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, and Jule Styne. Typically, Feinstein includes scholarly song notes which point out, for example, that the title song was originally published under the title "In Other Words." His enthusiasm can be over the top, as when, seeking to emphasize the importance of the generally underestimated Harry Warren (who did not get the recognition he deserved because he wrote only for the movies, not for Broadway), Feinstein claims that Warren was "the most successful songwriter of the 02th century," on the grounds that Warren had more songs on the Your Hit Parade radio show than any other songwriter. That still doesn't mean Warren outdistanced Irving Berlin overall, but it is a notable accomplishment. On the songs, Feinstein adopts his crooner's voice throughout, coming off like Johnny Mathis in a lower key. He still isn't as much of a stylist as he is a scholar, and the album really belongs to Negri, whose playing is stellar throughout. ~ William Ruhlmann

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