EXCLUSIVE LISTEN: The Land Where the Good Songs Go, Jerome Kern Revue, Released; Rebecca Luker, Kate Baldwin Among Cast
By Kenneth Jones
A sold-out 2010 Manhattan concert of Jerome Kern songs crafted by arranger, orchestrator and music director David Loud — and featuring Broadway stars — lives beyond the memories of those who attended. PS Classics releases The Land Where the Good Songs Go, a two-disc recording of the show, Dec. 11. Playbill snagged an exclusive audio track.
PS Classics, the record label dedicated to the heritage of Broadway and American popular song, first called this release "A Jerome Kern Evening," but opted for a more song-specific title (inspired by the lyric by P.G. Wodehouse, which kicks off the 30-track album). It was recorded Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and 2. The disc stars the 2010 Merkin Hall concert's original cast — Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin, Heidi Blickenstaff, Tony nominee Rebecca Luker, Graham Rowat and Matthew Scott. PS Classics co-founder, the actor and recording artist Philip Chaffin, fills in for Colin Donnell, who was in Vancouver filming the TV series "Arrow." Using just songs, they embody three couples telling of their joys, loves and pains in the first part of the 20th century.
PS Classics offered Playbill.com an exclusive listen to the album's "The Subway Express," a 1907 song by lyricist James O'Dea and Jerome Kern, sung by Kate Baldwin and Matthew Scott.
The Land Where the Good Songs Go is produced by PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker.
The revue was first produced as The Land Where the Good Songs Go at Catholic University in November 2004, as part of the Excellence in Music Theater program. New York City fans of the songs of Kern (1885-1945), the composer who helped change the landscape of musical theatre with such musicals as Show Boat and Sweet Adeline, heard his music in a fresh context in a further revision of the revue Nov. 15, 2010, at Merkin Concert Hall, where the show was dubbed All the Things You Are: Jerome Kern.
Using the lyrics of more than a dozen of Kern's collaborators — including Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Fields and P.G. Wodehouse — the song cycle/revue "weaves the stories of three couples how they meet, fall in love and face life's inevitable challenges," according to PS Classics. The result "sparkles with wit, tenderness, and warmth."
Here's the track listing:
Music director David Loud provides new vocal arrangements and orchestrations. The album was made possible by funding from David & Kim Savage.
Loud was the music director and vocal arranger of Broadway's The Scottsboro Boys. As conductor, music director and/or arranger, he has worked on Broadway's Sondheim on Sondheim, Curtains, A Class Act, The Boys From Syracuse, Steel Pier, She Loves Me and more. As a performer, he appeared as pianist Manny in Master Class with Zoe Caldwell, as Sasha in Curtains and as Ted in Merrily We Roll Along. Read about the next collaboration between PS Classics and Loud — a disc of songs by Cole Porter and Noel Coward.
In January 2013, PS Classics will release Luker's third solo disc on the label: "I Got Love: Songs of Jerome Kern," featuring 13 Kern classics not heard on The Land Where the Good Songs Go album. It's drawn from her summer 2012 concert at 54 Below; Joseph Thalken is the musical director/arranger.
Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, and an eight-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of Porgy and Bess, Follies, Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens, Company, A Little Night Music and Sondheim on Sondheim), PS Classics celebrates the heritage of Broadway and American popular song through award-winning cast recordings; solo albums by such artists as Maureen McGovern, Victoria Clark, Steven Pasquale, Liz Callaway and Christine Andreas; and restorations of long-lost musicals, including Sweet Bye and Bye, Strike Up the Band 1930 and Kitty's Kisses. Recent releases include the 2012 Encores! recording of Merrily We Roll Along, the new Broadway cast album of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess and its acclaimed studio cast recording of George Gershwin's earliest surviving score, Sweet Little Devil.
Here's a photo gallery from the fall 2010 concert that inspired this new recording:
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