The Book of Love
Should TV’s “desperate housewives” ever form a vocal quintet, Ms. Bentyne’s latest album would provide the ideal template. The dozen tracks are divided into chapters such as “Longing,” “Flirtation,” “Lust”…get the drift? And as if Bentyne’s rangy voice couldn’t handle the great standards by itself, she’s surrounded by quite an entourage: the strings of the City of Prague Symphony Orchestra; great homegrown soloists like tenorist Bob Sheppard; trumpeter Chris Tedesco; guitarist Grant Geissman; guest vocalist John Pizzarelli to harmonize with under a “Blue Moon”; even one-third of Take Six for the title tune.
Production values and provocative photos aside, Cheryl sparkles away from her claustrophobic home base: Manhattan Transfer. She’s already a proven soloist: This album is merely further proof that she is a master of straight, unadorned melody. Her phrasing and enunciation, both models of clarity, make her one of the most desired goals of lyric writers. Best examples of both: “Goodbye” and “You Don’t Know Me,” uncluttered by false dramatics, yet gut-wrenching. It must be infectious: The cello solo in “Be My Love” is as pure and pristine as Bentyne’s voice.