CD Review: Beverley Church Hogan’s “Sweet Invitation”

June 30, 2022 | By

In an era where Marilyn Maye, Petula Clark, Sheila Jordan, and Shirley Bassey are still going strong with no sign of slowing down, it should come as no surprise that 86-year-old singer Beverley Church Hogan would release a CD as masterful, savvy and irresistibly entertaining as her new recording, Sweet Invitation. Church Hogan’s voice, like burnished steel melting around the edges, is well-served by producer Mark Winkler.  Winkler, whose own new and remarkable CD was reviewed on this site the other month, is a perfect match for the singer.  His sense of jazz history, his taste in material, and his unabashed love for the idiom inform the album throughout. An impressive group of musicians including John Proulx on piano (and arrangements), the great Grant Geissman on guitar, Lyman Medeiros on bass, and Bob Sheppard on sax, adds immeasurably to the CD’s success.

Church Hogan’s smokey, expressive vocals and easy, conversational delivery immediately grab the listener on the cheekily sexy, lighthearted, and bluesy “Don’cha Go Way Mad” (Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Mundy, Al Stillman). A nicely swinging “Falling in Love with Love” (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) is informed with a hard-earned wisdom and acceptance.  Her bossa take on “Here’s That Rainy Day” (Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn) loosens it from the often-overdone sadness that can sink into self-pity and imbues it with unusual strength and resignation, while its classic sound caresses as it moves.  “I Got Lost in His Arms” (Irving Berlin) becomes a moving memory of love past. Not that it was necessary but the singer’s jazz bona fides are on beautiful display in “Invitation” (Bronislau Kaper, John Francis Webster, from the film A Life of Her Own) but she never lets the style get in the way of the story. It’s a great track. 

With the expert rhythms and commanding vocals of the deceptively simple “I’m Just Foolin’ Myself” (Peter Tinturin, Jack Lawrence), she handily steals the song from the shadow of Billie Holiday and makes it her personal property. It is one of the joys of the recording, and that joy continues and grows with the relaxed, lived-in delivery of an unexpectedly scintillating “What a Way to Go” (Bobby David, Jim Rushing). Age, experience, simplicity, honesty, and exquisite phrasing combine on a gorgeous “When October Goes” (Barry Manilow, Johnny Mercer) that is almost impossibly touching. “Why Try to Change Me Now” (Cy Coleman, Joseph McCarthy) is not only a perfect performance of a classic American song but a declaration of individuality and inner strength.  It is at once a testament and a muted anthem and a perfect closer for the album. 

For any beginner (or anyone at all) thinking of recording, Beverley Church Hogan’s Sweet Invitation is a masterclass on how to do it.  For the rest of us, it is a beautifully crafted, wonderfully entertaining album that only grows in stature on repeated listens.  She is one hell of a singer!

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Category: News / Reviews / Commentary, Reviews

About the Author ()

Gerry Geddes has conceived and directed a number of musical revues—including the Bistro- and MAC Award-winning "Monday in the Dark with George" and "Put On Your Saturday Suit-Words & Music by Jimmy Webb"—and directed many cabaret artists, including André De Shields, Helen Baldassare, Darius de Haas, and drag artist Julia Van Cartier. He directs "The David Drumgold Variety Show," currently in residence at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, and has produced a number of recordings, including two Bistro-winning CDs. He’s taught vocal performance at The New School, NYU, and London’s Goldsmith’s College and continues to conduct private workshops and master classes. As a writer and critic, he has covered New York’s performing arts scene for over 40 years in both local and national publications; his lyrics have been sung by several cabaret and recording artists. Gerry is an artist in residence at Pangea, and a regular contributor to the podcast “Troubadours & Raconteurs.” He just completed a memoir of his life in NYC called “Didn’t I Ever Tell You This?”

Comments (1)

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  1. Beverley Church Hogan says:

    ⚘My heart and I Thank you Gerry for the warm and exclusive review!⚘You so get me!⚘ So grateful for your listening and enjoying my story telling!
    ⚘Beverley Church Hogan⚘