The Starlit Hour
There was something special about Rebecca Kilgore and Dave Frishberg's long-running engagement at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Ore. Unfortunately, the gig ended in 1997.
The good news is that one evening in February of that year, Alan Garren of the delightfully named Waltzing Bear Audio captured an hour of their collaboration. Garren's recording is up close and perfectly balanced. Musical, cheerful, literate and faultlessly in tune, Kilgore sang 17 songs. Frishberg was at the piano, not opening his mouth. Famous as a songwriter and singer, he is less well known these days as an accompanist and soloist. He is, however, a world-class pianist, favored in his salad days by Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Jimmy Rushing, Carmen McRae and Ben Webster. His work with Kilgore, including two solo features, is a firm reminder of that.
From her enormous repertoire, Kilgore chose familiar songs like "Cry Me a River," "Everything Happens to Me" and "It's the Talk of the Town." She also presented wonderful obscurities, among them "Not Mine," "You Smell So Good," "Thief in the Night" and "The Starlit Hour." She is an optimist. In "Glad to Be Unhappy," she sounds glad, and means it. An accomplished musician who knows chords, Kilgore could no doubt scat. She chooses not to, rather like Mark Twain's gentleman who knows how to play the accordion but refrains from doing so. She creates variations on melodies, works wonders with lyrics and swings. She doesn't need to scat to be a jazz singer.