|Deborah Pearl - Souvenir Of You|
by Willard Manus
CD was put together by the multi-talented Deborah Pearl, who is not only
a top TV & screenwriter (Designing Women, Waiting For Yvette) but
an accomplished singer and songwriter. Pearl was also friendly with the
late jazz legend Benny Carter and his wife Hilma, who served as surrogate
parents to her when she moved to L.A. from New York two decades ago.
SOUVENIR OF YOU kicks off with a jaunty, toe-tappin' version of Happy Feet, with Pearl singing and scatting up a storm. Two warm, sweet ballads follow, Wonderland and People Time (one of Benny's best-known tunes). Speedy and witty wordplay comes next in Doozy Blues, with Pearl showing off her slow-drag chops on Sunday Morning Comes and Scattin' Back to Harlem.
Pearl's original lyrics on these and other tracks are remarkably fresh and sophisticated, matched only by the virtuosity of her lovely, far-ranging voice, exquisite phrasing and timing. Pearl outdoes herself on the CD's last two numbers, the love song Benny wrote for Hilma, Sky Dance For Two, and the tribute he dedicated to the memory of his friend and fellow horn man, Johnny Hodges, Souvenir of You. On the latter, Pearl turns the latter tune into an elegy for Benny Carter himself: "Time takes our verses away, but melodies live on. Forever playing your song at heaven's door, and here a souvenir of you."