CD – Sing Along With Mitch



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Review by Brent Black at Digital Jazz News
As well respected as they come, Mitchel Forman has played with some of the biggest legends in both traditional and contemporary jazz. Forman’s resume includes but is not limited to Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, and John Scofield. Having worked with iconic vocalists in the past such as Michael McDonald and Al Jarreau Sing Along With Mitch has Forman taking on the roll of jazz sensei to seven very unique and incredibly gifted vocalists.
This release is not without some potential musical tripwires after all the music of some pop icons has not made the intended crossover to an arrangement with more jazz sensibilities – until now! The Beatles, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Cyndi Lauper, and Kenny Logggins transcend the industry imposed limitations of genre into an intimate release of artistic beauty. There are few keyboardists that could pull off a recording such as this as effortlessly as Forman does here.
What happens on Sing Along With Mitch is far more than a set of easily arranged pop covers delivered by singers whose talents may be better served working happy hour at the local Marriott. Forman introduces us to some rare finds and budding stars including two mesmerizing performances by the lovely Tierney Sutton who gives a vocal master class on “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?” Lizzy Loeb does not sing “Celebrate Me Home” instead she caresses the song with inflection and phrasing that is so heartfelt and lovely as to easily confirm the belief in a higher power as talent such as this simply doesn’t happen by accident. Robbie Wyckoff delivers the goods and then some on the James Taylor classic “Close Your Eyes” along with the Curtis Mayfield penned “People Get Ready.” In a piano/vocal duet release with various artists there is the danger of the release literally falling off the table around track 6 while some “B” list talent is brought in to help round out the session but not here!Sing Along With Mitch is a consistent artistic triumph where pianist and vocalist work in total harmony. Arnold McCuller, Giulietta Ciambotti, Steven Santoro and Joy Burnworth all turn in stellar performances leaving this critic longing for Volume Two.
Make no mistake, this is a duet recording in the truest sense of the word. Normally the pianist will play “around” or “behind” the vocalist but it is Forman’s innate gift of harmonic texture that adds a sonic depth of field that is as intoxicating and captivating as the vocalist featured. Produced, recorded and mixed by Mitchel Forman then end result is simply magic.
Forman is one of the premier keyboardists of his generation. From recording and contributing to the John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Mahavishnu to Sing Along With Mitch, the music and talent of Mitchel Forman does not transcend boundaries, it shatters them. Sing Along With Mitch is warm, organic and intimate yet with a subtle and soulful spontaneous joy weaving its way effortlessly throughout the release.
 Literally the perfect recording.
Mitchel Forman and friends simply don’t sing and play the songs, they make the music.
Tracks: Dear Prudence; Celebrate Me Home; Peace Train; Turning Into Blue; People Get Ready; Turning Into Blue; People Get Ready; A Sleepin’ Bee; And So It Goes; True Colors; God Bless The Child; What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life? Close Your Eyes; I Wont Last A Day Without You.
Jordan Richardson, BLOGCRITICS.ORG

What we have with Sing Along with Mitch is a delicate, beautiful collection of piano and vocal duets. Simple as that.


And yet in this humble presentation, pianist and vocal accompanist Mitchel Forman does so much. I have to cop to not having heard of most of the vocalists featured on the record. Forman’s work alongside the likes of Wayne ShorterStan GetzJohn Scofield, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra goes without saying. He has also played with some of the best vocalists around, including Al JarreauFrankie ValliMel Torme, and Amy Winehouse.


Forman’s role on Sing Along with Mitch is deviously modest. His piano and vocal accompaniment is more than just a background to the prominent vocalists; he provides edging, dexterously delineating the tinges of these jazz and pop standards while letting the singers draw their own implications.


Up first is Arnold McCuller with “Dear Prudence.” The Cleveland-born vocalist has served as a back-up vocalist to a diverse group of artists, including Beck and Phil Collins, and toured for 30 years with James Taylor. He has one of those voices that most have heard but many may not be able to place, with his performance on Taylor’s “Shower the People” serving as just one fabled example.


McCuller’s gentle, welcoming tone is a charming fit for the Beatles‘ tune dedicated to Mia Farrow‘s sister. The song is a form of supplication and McCuller handles it with discreet desperation, his vocal finesses touching on the virtue of the tune.


Steven Santoro, the Massachusetts-born singer, handles “Peace Train.” The Cat Stevens tune has never really been a favourite of mine and Santoro unfortunately doesn’t change things, with the song reaching slushy altitudes at times. Luckily he fares better with “And So It Goes,” giving the Billy Joel piece his own imprint and slipping beautifully along with Forman’s ivory strokes.


Tierney Sutton, a three-time Grammy nominee, sings “Turning Into Blue” and “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life.” The latter, written by Michel Legrand for the film The Happy Ending, has been sung famously by Barbra Streisand, but Sutton puts her own stamp on it with this attentive rendition. She articulates exquisitely and pairs with Forman’s piano like fine wine pairs with great food.


Forman joins Lizzy Loeb for “Celebrate Me Home.” This track, an adult contemporary staple from the mind of Kenny Loggins, showcases the real find on this album for me. Loeb, a 25-year-old from New York City, carries an impeccable balance of pleasantness and magnetism in her tone, transforming the average Loggins fare into something with sizzle and smoke.


Sing Along with Mitch works as a series of cool arrangements showcasing a collection of vocalists you may or may not have heard of. Forman’s cool, ever-steady style on the keys lets the singers shine through, but he’s no slouch. It is his glow that serves as the centrepiece for the record, providing a firm foundation for some fine vocal performances you’ll want to hear again and again.

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