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September 2002

David Klein Quintet
My Marilyn

This collection of songs from Marilyn Monroe's films is one of the sleeper CD successes in recent memory. Shortly after its release in Europe it sold over 30,000 copies, a huge number for a recording by relatively little known artists. Swiss tenor saxophonist David Klein conceived the project as a tribute to the actress.

The saxophonist's mother, Miriam Klein, is the singer. Mulgrew Miller heads the rhythm section. Much of the credit for My Marilyn's popularity goes to sentimentality for Monroe, which seems to grow year by year, but the music stands on its quality, not on the programmatic association.

On the ballads that predominate, Klein's canny, relaxed solos owe something in conception to John Coltrane and in tone to expansive swing-era tenors like Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. His playing on "Specialization," from Let's Make Love, and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" marks him as a fresh voice, a tenor player to keep an ear on. Miriam Klein's idiosyncratic singing comes from Billie Holiday, but she is much less directly derivative of Holiday here than on her CD Ballads for Loving Kindness (Divox). On "She Acts Like a Woman Should," she achieves an intimacy not quite like that of any other singer, and her "Some Like It Hot" has an authentic, lived-in blues feeling.

Miller's contribution as accompanist is an essential element in the album's success, and he solos at his customary high level. Bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Marcello Pellitteri complete the rhythm section. Each has brief, effective solo turns. The CD booklet includes photographs of Marilyn Monroe at her most luminous.

Originally published in September 2002
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