Tom Lobo, with Albert Combrink at the Piano, in ”BEING ALIVE”.
The Greatest Broadway Songs You Probably Never Heard. To select material for this CD was simple. Ever since I entered the theatre at age 13 for the first time, to work as a stagehand during my vacations, the musical theatre has been my favourite world.
In that world, two brilliant American composers/lyricists, stand out, Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman. Their contribution to musical theatre is unparalleled.
Stephen Sondheim is, according to Cameron Mackintosh, possibly the greatest lyricist ever. Among Sondheim’s work: ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’, ‘Company’, ‘Follies’, ‘A Little Night Music’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘Sunday in the Park with George’ and ‘Into the Woods’. He also wrote the lyrics for ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Gypsy’.
Jerry Herman on the other hand, is perceived as the poet of the show tune. Among his work ‘Milk and Honey’, ‘Hello Dolly!’, ‘Mame’, ‘Dear World’, ‘Mack & Mabel’ and ‘La Cage aux Folles’.
I want to celebrate their genius, and collaborated with pianist Albert Combrink to develop our own sound. Songs from Broadway shows are usually presented as part of a story, by an actor, who plays a role, on a stage, under rich lighting, with scenery, in a costume and accompanied by a full orchestra.
On a CD the dynamics are vastly different. Thus we decided to present you with the essence of each song, a (trained) voice and a grand piano.
Since all songs are about love, they are pretty dramatic anyway. They are not ”baby baby songs”, because, in Sondheim’s words:
”I’m attracted to volatile characters, because they’re the stuff of drama, and when they explode in song, it allows the songwriter to veer off unexpectedly in many directions, echoing the disorder in the character’s mind… and they come with a bonus: such songs are meat for actors”.
May I suggest, tongue-in-cheek, that Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman and myself, being Jewish and gay, identify with those ‘lively characters’ more than we are willing to admit?
Come to think of it, another lively character is gifted concert pianist Albert Combrink. He is the ultimate ‘accompianist’, creating his own sound, while devouring cookies and chocolate and being generally supportive. A true partner in music, and since, a close friend.
Sound engineer Duncan Mackay was the third performer and set of ears in the studio. He sold millions of discs as performer and keyboard player (10CC, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, and much more). His walls are covered with golden records, so he kind of knows what works. I hope to end up on his wall too, with your help.
A word of thanks to Louise Howlett, a great soprano in her own right, who subtly guided me toward creating this CD and whose presence and advice in the studio was so welcome!
Well, now it is up to you listeners to judge, and hopefully enjoy!