In Something Old And New, Manu Lafer enjoys the pleasure of clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Ken Peplowski as the guest of honor. Ken is the most well-known promoter of the music of Benny Goodman, with whom he worked, in addition to developing a prolific career as a globe-trotting solo artist (including visits to Brazil) and accompanying stars from Madonna to Mel Tormé.
However, it was Manu who ended up as the “guest’s guest”, who conceived and proposed this big step in the collaboration that built up over Manu’s three previous albums: Trip The Light Fantastic (from the American songbook), The Word (original works) and Buckskin (a tribute to Bucky Pizzarelli).
Peplowski is responsible not only for the musical production, but also for selecting the repertoire. The title, Something Old And New, came from the song, Junk, by Paul McCartney, chosen by Beatle-maniac Ken, who took the recordings to the Trading 8s studios, in New Jersey, where they were carefully recorded by engineer Chris Sulit (a well-known collector of Grammys).
Ken brought his quartet, chosen from the A-listers of the jazz circuit, with Matt Wilson (drums), Martin Wind (bass) and Ehud Asherie (piano). Guitarist Paul Meyers was invited for the tracks recorded with the jazz band. For the folk and blue grass tracks, Justin Poindexter (steel-string guitar, guitar, banjo and slide guitar) and Sam Reider (accordion) were called in. Valentina Shoddy’s viola and vocals completed the arrangements.
In the repertoire, there is a selection composed of more well-known songs, such as Remember, by Irving Berlin, first sung in Manu’s personal divisions and harmony, then presented with an instrumental bossa tone reminiscent of Henri Mancini, or by better-known songwriters, like Harry Nilsson (Without Her) and Bob Dylan (The Girl From The North Country), in addition to previously mentioned one by Paul McCartney, as well as songs by lesser-known songwriters, such as Firefly, The Girl Who Fell In love With The Moon and Ghosts, by the Wilson brothers (from the pop band Grand Drive), Boo Hewerdine and Jesse Winchester, respectively. All of these songs were enriched by Ken’s sensitivity and the musicians’ harmony.
The album is endorsed by John Pizzarelli, a long-standing collaborator of Manu, who promoted it on his Radio DeLuxe talk show (co-hosted by singer Jessica Molaskey) and who teamed up with him for the song Canto Casual (present in Manu’s discography and the CD celebrating the 50th anniversary of the LP Sinatra e Tom, a tribute by John Pizzarelli). His seven-string guitar can be heard in Pretty World (a cover of Sá Marina, a hit from the 1960s) and I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face, in which John also sings with Manu.
Something Old And New is a rare opportunity to hear a Brazilian artist singing an original selection from the American songbook, but with creative arrangements and played by exponents of their instruments, together with a true jazz star and with the freedom to make incursions on his musical taste.
The joy displayed by the pair on the cover photograph (taken by Fernanda Faya) is a perfect match for the musical atmosphere not only of this album, but of the history of so many collaborations.