Review in the Jazz Gazette, Belgium
I listened to this CD for the first time on my portable player when I was in hospital with heart troubles, waiting for a pacemaker. I had asked my daughter to bring me some CDs picked up at random in my music room, which is a terrible mess. "Bing - The Road To Rhythm & Romance" was one of them. When I listened to it I felt better immediately. It's this kind of a record. It is full of joy, optimism…and rhythm & romance. In fact, it was just what I needed right there and then.
Although John claims in his liner notes that it was never his intention to clone Bing Crosby - a pointless and impossible task, he writes - I have to say that he captured the spirit of the great crooner in a most perfect way. If you think Crosby's singing is old-fashioned, I'd say that I admire John Petters for not being afraid to sound old-fashioned. The first time I was impressed by his vocal efforts was on the Hoagy Carmichael CD, reviewed earlier on these pages. This man can sing…and he is a fine drummer as well.
When I came to the second song, "You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me", - "Where The Blue …" lasts only for 14 seconds at the start of this CD and 16 seconds at the end of it - I had a vision of Lauren Bacall moving to the music of Hoagy in that great movie "To Have And Have Not" (1944), managing to look more sexy with all her clothes on than most naked or half-naked babes we see in today's video-clips. This is meant as a compliment to this music (and to Bacall!).
In "Brother Can You Spare A Dime" you will find all the pathos of this beautiful song from the days of the great depression. Another favourite of mine is "I Found A Million Dollar Baby (In A Five And Ten Cents Store)" which, I was once told, was written in honour of the granddaughter of the founder of the Woolworth department stores. And what about "Don't Fence Me In" with its visions of a lonely rider on the wide plains under a Western sky? Great!
For the incurable romantics there are some of the finest love songs from the great American Songbook that prove that you can swing even at slow tempos. Listen to that great medley!
Although the singing steals the show on this CD, there is great instrumental work as well in many solos and duets by two excellent reed players, Trevor Whiting (who has his own CD on this label) and James Evans, and by pianist Martin Litton, who was musical director on this session and who wrote the arrangements. Add to all this the powerful bass of John Day and the Gene Krupa inspired drumming of John Petters and you'll know what to expect from this happy and beautifully recorded CD.
It was a record of Bing Crosby that made John Petters discover jazz around 1968. Hence this tribute to this famous singer. He couldn't have asked for a better one. If you like Bing and the music of the pre-bebop days, this CD is one you should have.