Anyone Who Had A Heart : the music of Burt Bacharach
Joe Chindamo (Jazzhead)
Review by Peter Kenneally
Chindamo: the raw material
Burt Bacharach! Cufflinks. Perhaps a ruffled shirt. New York London Paris. Roger Moore or Gene Barry, and a breezy hummable tune loved by all that sums up the insouciant swingingness of the sixties. You don’t even need to remember the words. Dada dada dada da usually covers it. But there’s more to Burt than that, or at least so many singers and musicians think so, as they cover and work with Burt. Elvis Costello was determined that there be more, but only ended up cowering before the ghost of Cilla Black. As we do here with the only vocal, Christine Sullivan’s rendition of ‘Anyone who had a heart’. Always a mistake, I feel, to have one lonely sung number on an album, especially as the last track: Sullivan is stuck rather unfairly with the tune while the band perform the same layered wonders they have throughout. She does her best, but it’s a losing battle. However without vocals it is a different story, so Burt is a natural fit for jazz interpretation, and Joe Chindamo’s album of Bacharach tunes, now reissued, does what all good jazz coverings should: it plays the idea and the feeling: not the tune. Chindamo moves effortlessly from one emotion to another: they’re all cinematic emotions, but that’s for the best. On ‘I say a little prayer’ he takes the song away from its pop gospel home and the prayer session revs up slowly, like a Quaker meeting where the godly folk end up, speaking in tongues, a little sheepishly, but the glint of abandon in their eyes. The rhythm section, Ben Robertson on bass and Tony Floyd on drums, create every mood you need, from dancesway strollswagger on ‘Walk On By’ to a barely there susurrus on ‘Alfie’ and ‘I just don’t know what to do with myself’. On the latter two there is in most renditions no actual question being asked except rhetorically, but Chindamo gently interrogates the tunes. What’s the answer, that’s what he keeps asking himself: what is it all about? What does it feel like when you don’t know what to do with yourself? A good tune won’t help you, and a complicated arrangement only fogs things up, so Chindamo and Co. meditate on the very edge of the tune, so much so that sometimes you don’t even notice one ending and another beginning. It’s like a Necks album, only with tunes! It’s all literally beautiful: no sneaking in any jazz discordance or any arid technical sterility. Except for the liner notes, my personal bugbear, I admit. “His talent is so vast and deep that it transcends both stylistic and cultural considerations.” It’s music: there aren’t any other considerations.
Chindamo: the mines
A ruffled tune. You don’t even remember the words. Dada dada dada da musicians work with Burt while the band wonders should it say a little prayer a little sheepishly, as Chindamo tunes beautiful jazz so deep that it transcends rations: there aren’t any rations.
Joe Chindamo does jazz: effortlessly slowly barely rhetorically, but Chindamo won’t help you meditate. It’s like disco that ends a cultural era. It’s music: there aren’t any other eras.
Burt Bacharach was here before: he had a heart of abandon, a barely there question asking what you know and a complicated beautiful sterility. Except for the personal considerations: there aren’t any other considerations.
swingingness covers the emotions, and tongues a little sheepish question: what’s on the very edge of the beginning? It’s like jazz or any personal talent that transcends music: there are other considerations.
Joe Chindamo – piano (& piano accordion on track 8 )
Ben Robertson – bass
Tony Floyd – drums (& percussion on 8 )
Alex Pertout (percussion on 1-2, 4-5)
Christine Sullivan (vocals on 8 )