BEVERLY LEWIS
All Shades Of Blues
(TMB Records)

 

Offering up a mix of bluesy jazz vocals covering some well known song standards, All Shades Of Blues is a fine introduction to the art of singer Beverly Lewis. Recording in South Florida, Beverly gets fine support from some gifted musicians including guitarist John Fifield—a guitar multi-tasker who is often masterful at merging a number of electric guitar sounds and styles, sometimes within the scope of a single song. Covers highlighted on the ten track, 38 minute CD include fine renditions of the Cannonball Adderly classic, written by Joe Zawinal, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and the B.B. King favorite “Everyday I Have the Blues”, here blending in the Billie Holiday standard “Fine And Mellow.” That uptempo, rockin’ groove is what Ms. Lewis excels at. Some writers have mentioned comparisons between Beverly Lewis and time honored vocal icons like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday and after hearing her album it's hard to argue with that point. Backing up Beverly's musical appeal here are top players such as Sammy Figueroa (percussion), Randy Singer (harmonica), and Lee Levin and Göran Rista (drums). In addition to fine mixing from Göran Rista and mastering by Bob Katz, the CD also benefits from a number of horn players, including those who have worked with jazz-rock icon Blood, Sweat & Tears. Offering an interesting contrast to John Fifield’s work on his recent solo album, It Is What It Is... the sound of All Shades Of Blues is very well recorded and overall the CD presents an impressive album of solid jazzy blues. www.BeverlyLewis.net

mwe3.com presents an interview
with BEVERLY LEWIS



mwe3.com: Where do you draw inspiration from musically and what artists and favorite recordings are part of your important musical influences?

Beverly Lewis: I get inspired by good music in general. It really depends on the mood that I'm in, but generally speaking, I love soul, blues and jazz. Growing up, I heard a lot of Ray Charles, Hank Williams, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis and big band music. Because I grew up mainly in Toledo, which is outside of Detroit, Motown was the big thing. Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, and then later Bob Seger were some of my favorites. I absolutely love good soulful Gospel music, which is why I think Aretha is the best, piano wise and vocally. When Janis Joplin first came out with "Piece of my Heart" I was completely impressed with her. However, I have to say, I think one of the best male vocalists had to be Lou Rawls. In the 70's, I fell in love with Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and Delbert McClinton. I really love all kinds of swing. Grand Funk Railroad was also a big favorite. In the early ‘80s Ernestine Anderson—who is like a female Lou Rawls—and Denise LaSalle became a couple of my favorite singers to listen to along with revisiting Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. At that time I was just starting to really get into Miles Davis also.


mwe3.com: You started performing at a very early age. Did you go through formal musical and/or vocal training and what songs did you like to sing and want to sing early in your career?

BL: I can't remember a time that I wasn't singing and dancing. The short time that we lived in Chicago was the first time that I sang in a show, I was probably about 4. When we moved to Toledo, I first started taking ballet at 6 and at 7 started taking singing lessons from Lola Smith. Lola and her ex-husband used to have a local radio show. I also studied drama and did shows at the repertoire theatre. Between my singing teacher and doing musicals I learned a lot of standard tunes which have served me well through the years.

I used to sing jingles for some local radio ads and my first band gigs were with the Johnny Knorr Big Band and with the Dixieland Jazz band. I had a blast with the jazz Band. So much fun. Now I'm very partial to singing with horns. Plus, I love to swing dance and that fills the bill. I love singing and performing and feel more like myself on stage than off.


mwe3.com: How did the making of All Shades Of Blues take shape and what are some of your favorite songs on the album? Your versions of "Everyday I Have The Blues" and "Mercy, Mercy Mercy" are definite highlights.

BL: Well for many years I got hired to sing what other people wanted me to sing whether it was top 40 or rock or recording jingles and singing for dance school records. But I came to a point in my life that I just decided to sing the music that I enjoy singing and put it to CD. So really, I made the album for me and hoped that when others heard it, that they would like it also.

I'm not quite sure which song I would pick off the album as my favorite, because I like all the tunes, but I lean towards "The Jealous Kind." John Fifield plays a really mean slide guitar on it, which I love. I remember hearing “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” growing up and every time I would go on jazz gigs I would hear it instrumentally and so I decided that I would learn it, so I picked up records of The Buckinghams and Ernestine doing the tune and shed
with it.

“Everyday I Have The Blues / Fine and Mellow” is something I just kind of fell into. I had a keyboard player friend back home, Eddie Abrams, that we used to jam together at a club in Toledo called Rusty's and I would sing “Fine And Mellow” with him as a ballad. Then we started doing it as a swing and gradually, I started adding verses from “Everyday I Have The Blues” here and there as we were jamming to it and it evolved into what is on the CD now.


mwe3.com: You also worked in the movie industry in Florida? What did that experience bring to your musical and artistic background and how do you like living, working and recording in Florida?

BL: Yes, I did some Toyota commercials and did some extra work in a few movies down here. I need to get back to that in the not too distant future. But I got to tell you, nothing beats singing in front of a receptive audience. It does my heart good to make people happy and hopefully lighten up their lives. After all that's what entertainment is supposed to do, otherwise we might as well just stick to playing music in
our living rooms.

I love Florida. John, my husband, and I call it our little slice of paradise. Right now, South Florida is really hot for the blues and R&B which just suits me fine. We are lucky to have some very good musicians that play blues and jazz down here. Tracy Fields, a D.J. at WLRN, has been very supportive of the local musicians and singers down here.


mwe3.com: How did you decide what songs were going to be featured on the All Shades Of Blues album and how did you and John Fifield and Teddy Mulet work together on the song arrangements?

BL: Well, we recorded the majority of All Shades Of Blues in our recording Studio, TMB, with the exception of the drums which was done at Goran Rista's studio and Lee Levin's studio.

Teddy Mulet was wonderful to work with. He's so talented. I gave him the idea of what I wanted and he more than did an excellent job especially on “All Blues.” He played all the layers and arranged the horn parts on “Mad About Him, Sad Without Him Blues.” I met Teddy back in the early 80's before he got with the Miami Sound Machine and he was playing bass and working with his then wife, Debbie, who was singing. Now he's been working with Blood, Sweat and Tears. They are very lucky to have him.


mwe3.com: What are you planning to do next musically?

BL: I haven't decided yet, but one thing I can say, is it will be something that I enjoy singing.


Thanks To Beverly Lewis @ www.beverlylewis.net

 

 
   
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