Thursday, May 15, 2008

Unlikely Cover of the Week – Cybill Shepherd "This Masquerade"

Maybe you were perhaps expecting a song from the 80s or 90s when Shepherd was already a big star, thanks to "Moonlighting" and her self-titled sitcom "Cybill?" A time when she had the pull, just like her co-star and "pal" Bruce Willis, to play prima donna and demand that the music busiess make her a major singing star?

Nope, believe it or not, this cover of the Leon Russell song (first made popular by George Benson) comes from her 1976 release called Mad About The Boy. Shepherd was just 26 then, a former beauty queen who was five years removed from her head-turning debut in The Last Picture Show (1971). Even back then when she probably wasn't always called back by her own agent, she desired to be an an actress and a cabaret-style singer – and this album, recorded over four days in a Hollywood studio. represents her first attempt at making that transition.

Play "This Masquerade" by Cybill Shepherd

But that's not the best part of the album.

Listen to that saxophone. Your ears aren't deceiving you. That is indeed Stan Getz backing Ms. Cybill with his inimitable sound. If it sounds vaguely like Stan is is once again in the Bossa Nova frame of mind, there's good reason for that. This is his first album after his final recording with Joâo Gilberto, Best of Two Worlds (1976), which we covered in this earlier post. Furthermore, the great Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, who arranged the music on Best of Both Worlds, did the same duties for this album – having Shepherd cover Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Triste" for good measure.

Play "Triste" by Cybill Shepherd

As he was throughout this prolific mid-70s period when he was working with the likes of Chick Corea, Ron Carter, Jimmy Rowles and Bill Evans almost every month, Getz is once again in fine form. Give him credit. Shepherd is no great shakes as a vocalist (although she makes the most of her limitations). He could have phoned this performance in and simply lent Shepherd his name to sell the album or provide her with the credibility she craved. But Getz' professionalism wouldn't let that happen. As you can hear, there are some really nice Getz licks on this album. As a big fan of this genius saxophonist (isn't that apparent by now?), I'm glad this album is in my collection.

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