Chic to Cheek
'Music is organic'. Anything, even the sound of a train rattling on the tracks brings forth rhythmic verses in my mind.' - Rory The richness and diversity of "Chic to Cheek" is reflective of Rory's own multifarious musical journey. She began studying "classical piano" at the age of five and developed her technique performing many of the most notable works in the classical repertory. She went on to study viola and performed with a local orchestra in Rhode Island, her home base. Her interests took another turn as a multi-keyboardist/vocalist with a very popular Newport, RI Top 40 band. After many successful years with the band, she began developing a love of Jazz, which continues to be the true and abiding musical love of her life. She formed several different trios and quartets, which ran the gamut of R&B, Folk and Standards, performing in Boston, New York, Florida as well as Rhode Island. Recent years, she has spent time as pianist in the rare Big Band scene. Her far ranging musical interests led to a brief stint doing vocals and guitar in a local Blue Grass Band. As her history suggests, crossing genres and transcending styles comes naturally to her. For as she says, "it's all music", and this conviction continues to influence her art in both live as well as studio work. ? Fortunately, Rory found a musical soul-mate in her husband, Ric Ranucci, who is himself a musical genious in a great many ways. They lend their fresh musical stylings to Rock, Standards and even Classical pieces and always with verve. When the versatile duo performs live, audiences are often heard to comment, "they do everything" and " it is mesmerizing to watch them". Ric's contribution to this new CD "Chic To Cheek" is that of producer, but his talents were enlisted for the background vocals of Nat King Cole's, "Hit That Jive, Jack" on the third track. This was the Cole's trio most famous group vocal, and Ric's background vocal tracks added the feel of Cole's cool sidemen. The arrangements on "Chic To Cheek", similar to a live set, are so varied and eclectic that finding a suitable title must have been a challenge. One of Rory's talents is a knack for coming up with just the right phrase. 'Chic To Cheek' cleverly captures the varied content of the CD's diverse styles from the "Chic" of Sophisticated Lady" and "How Insensitive" to the "Cheek" of "Some Cats Know" and "Love You Madly." The first track's intro begins with a mellow motif from Gioacchino Rossini's "William Tell Overture" and then kicks-off unexpectedly into the Lieber and Stoller's tune "Some Cats Know". Musical quotes from Rossini's familiar mad-dash theme, used in the vintage TV program 'The Lone Ranger,' are married to the cheeky tune recorded by Peggy Lee. Hence, the reference to the unlikely combination becomes clear. Track two traces the origins of Jobim's durable bossa classic "A Insensatez" to Frederic Chopin's timeless "Rainy Day Prelude." Op. 28 No. 4. Parenthetically, Chopin's favorite instrument was reputed to be the guitar. In this arrangement, the prelude gently and seamlessly morphs into the bossa and gently slides back into the completion of the Chopin, so that the simpatico between these two works is physically experienced. Rory's smoky vocals in the original Brazilian Portuguese intensifies the latin mood. Then, the English version, brings a new appreciation for the chilling poignancy of the lyrics. Track four is one of Duke Ellington's most evocative musical compositions "Sophisticated Lady." The haunting lyrics by Mitchell Parish perfectly unite with the music to create the ultimate jazz standard. The treatment here by Rory, Dave and Jon, give the tune new life. Michael Franks' love of Brazil as expressed in 'Down In Brazil' is joined to 'One Note Samba' and 'Garota De Ipanema', both written by the man Franks greatly admired, Antonio Carlos Jobim. The langorous feel of this medley transports the listener to beaches in Rio and the swaying of the coconut palms. Truman Capote's lyrics on the next track "A Sleepin' Bee", bring to mind the folky tunes of the Old South summoned by a muse that had most definitely not a drop of "cold blood." "All Or Nothing At All" lends itself to many different styles, several of which are explored on this track. Dave's moody bass intro lays a lush carpet upon which enter the various styles of this performance of the classic Sinatra hit. A perfect choice is the following "La Vie En Rose", which is both respectful of the original and signature performance by Edith Piaf, yet exhibits new possibilities. A less familiar tune, albeit a Duke Ellington creation, is "Love You Madly" performed in breathtaking double time for an uptempo take, giving the sense of racing down a melodic hill with total abandon. This treatment reminds the jazzer of Anita O'Day in the video of "Jazz On A Summer's Day" recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival. The final track "Solamente Una Vez" is a kiss "good-bye" at the door. It is a traditional and beautiful Spanish creation that has been also recorded in English by Jackie Wilson as 'You Belong To My Heart.' Jon accompanies Rory's Spanish lyrics with a vintage classical guitar. The simple rendition required no piano or bass and serves as a fitting adieu to the preceding musical adventure. The bassist, Dave Zinno, and the guitarist, Jon Wheatley are among the finest musicians playing today. They have to their credit playdates with the likes of Diana Krall and Ron Carter and too many others to name. Their solos on these cuts will leave no doubt in the mind of the jazz aficionado of their exceptional musicianship and love of the creative adventure which is jazz. Praise must also go to engineer, Steve Rizzo, of Stable Sound Studios in Portsmouth, RI, where, through the studio's windows, one can literally view horses trotting by silently in the ring of the Vanderbilt Stables to which this studio is attached. It is a magical and surreal environment for recording, and the products coming out of this studio reflect this in their creativity. The making of this CD seems to be an invitation to share in this singular jazz experience of musical genres, cultures and languages, and to be transported to the places these musicians visited during the recording. Caio, fellow travellers!