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Shaynee Rainbolt : Charmed Life: Shaynee Rainbolt Sings Russell Garcia

One of the tracks included on this great vocal tribute to the music of Russell Garcia (and Gina Garcia, his wife of more than a half-century, who wrote the majority of the lyrics) is entitled “Warm and Wonderful.” As we learn from Don Heckman’s impressively edifying liner notes, the song’s beautiful, central chord was inspired by a street address. But it also provides an ideal description of Shaynee Rainbolt’s voice, sweet as jasmine and honeysuckle, bold as brass and yet as seductive as a candlelit boudoir.

As Heckman tells the story, after two widely praised platters of standards, Rainbolt wanted to take a new tack for her third release. Serendipitously, a friend introduced her to Julie London’s sultry recording of Garcia’s “Go Slow.” Determined to seek out more of the legendary composer-arranger’s work, Rainbolt traced the 92-year-old Garcia to New Zealand (where he now lives), then to Sherman Oaks (where he spends most summers). They met, Rainbolt began digging through a trunk full of Garcia songs, then convinced Garcia to not only arrange and conduct the ensuing album, but to also add his Four Trombone Band to the mix and himself play vibes.

The resultant 16 tracks embrace the immense breadth of Garcia’s talents, extending from the noirish propulsion of “Sounds in the Night” and enigmatic mistiness of “Five A.M.” to the sweeping, heartbroken grandeur of “Come Home Again” and swingin’ ebullience of “Flyin’ Free” (written as a birthday present for Count Basie). But ears alone aren’t enough to fully appreciate Charmed Life. You’ll need your eyes, too, to follow along with Heckman’s notes, for the stories behind the songs are as enticing as the tunes themselves.

Originally Published