Linda Eder sings songs of Frank Wildhorn
Peace hasn’t broken out around the world, and pestilence, famine and plague haven’t been banished from the face of the earth, but at least one small thing has improved my world. Sony Masterworks released a new collaboration between Frank Wildhorn and Linda Eder today.
Frank Who? Linda Who? Did I actually hear someone ask that? Then listen up … or, better yet, listen to the new disc “Now” on Masterworks.
Frank Wildhorn is the man who composed the scores for Jekyll & Hyde,The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War and Dracula which have all had Broadway runs, Wonderland which opens on Broadway next month and a raft of musicals which have found audiences in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Switzerland, Japan and, just last month, Korea.
Linda Eder is the vocalist who hails from Brainerd, Minnesota – just down the road from the huge Paul Bunyon statue. She has a purity of voice and a confidence of delivery that is remarkable. She came to prominence singing Wildhorn’s music, first in the concept albums and workshop versions of his musicals before they began to find their way to Broadway stages, and then on the road with the eighteen month tour of Jekyll & Hyde which preceded its Broadway run where she starred in the show for its first two years.
Eder has issued a dozen solo albums in the past twenty years, most of them either totally or primarily composed of songs by Wildhorn. They were a couple for many of those years, having married during the run of Jekyll & Hyde. They divorced, but it does seem that their musical compatibility has survived the separation.
“Now” features a dozen Wildhorn songs, most not recorded before. They range from soft, lush ballads through hard hitting torch songs to swinging up-tempo big-band numbers, all with the unabashed pop-influenced feel that is the Wildhorn signature. Eder caresses the melodies of the tender numbers and belts out the big sound required for the others with the assurance that has always marked her work.
The project was produced by Eder and Wildhorn and frequent collaborator Jeremy Roberts who has been Eder’s musical director/arranger/conductor since before the first concept album of Jekyll & Hyde. He arranged most of the tracks on this new album while Wildhorn’s frequent orchestrator Kim Scharnberg conducted.
Five of the numbers are from Wildhorn’s show scores. Two are from Camille Claudel, a show he wrote with lyricist Nan Knighton. Two have lyrics by Leslie Bricusse: “No Finer Man” from Cyrano de Bergerac and “Living In The Shadows” which was one of the songs Wildhorn provided after the death of Henry Mancini when his Victor/Victoria made the transition from the big screen to Broadway. Then there is “The Mad Hatter” from Wonderland with lyrics by Jack Murphy.
Murphy is the most represented lyricist on this disc with a total of five songs with his trademark wordplay – who else would write “I will lie / I will cheat / I will track you down / and then hit delete / tout suite”?
The accompaniment is as strong as any of Eder’s earlier solo albums. David Mann’s alto flute on “What Did you See Inside the Stars?” is as soulful as Don Sebesky’s “Soul Flutes” and Bob Mann’s (any relation?) guitar is as sonorous as Tony Mattola’s for “Not Gonna Fall In Love This Time.” Two piano performances stand out. Roberts’ accompaniment on “Ordinary People” is reminiscent of his work on one of Eder’s most memorable recordings, the haunting “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from her “It’s Time” CD when the two of them performed without any orchestra. Wildhorn himself provides the piano backing for “Living in the Shadows.”
Somehow, the world seems better today because there is this new disc.
See a conversation with Frank Wildhorn and Linda Eder about the making of this album here.