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Blues for Breakfast

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Album Review

The basis of award-winning New York City-based vocalist Mary Foster Conklin's heartfelt tribute to songwriter Matt Dennis is that he died in 2002 too little remembered, and she wanted to shine the light on his legacy. Then, of course, the crisply written liner notes by James Gavin quotes a praise by Tony Bennett, talk about Dennis' "Angel Eyes" being recorded by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and others being waxed by Chet Baker. The point seems to be, then, not that Dennis was totally obscure, but that his catalog was richer than these legends would have suspected. While she puts just the right smoky, heartbreaking touch to "Angel Eyes" and the elegant title track, Conklin does an equally magical job on whimsical, punchy John Di Martino arrangements of more obscure gems like "Show Me The Way to Get out of This World" and "Let's Get Away From It All." Other highlights include Conklin's beautiful Spanish lyrics on the balmy "Encanto d'Amor" (a translation of "It Wasn't the Stars That Thrilled Me") and her uncovering of two songs whose lyrics were penned by Bobby Troup — the eloquent, sparsely arranged "Where Am I to Go?" and thoughtful "Learn to Love." The subtle joys of this labor of love will hopefully get the attention of more contemporary vocalists, who should consider mining more of Dennis' wonderful songs in the future.


Born: Tenafly, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Mary Foster Conklin has a style that falls between jazz and cabaret. It took her some time before she settled on singing, and especially jazz. Conklin played the piano and clarinet in grade school, and in college she was a disc jockey at WRVR. After graduating from Connecticut College in 1979 with a degree in theater, she moved to New York City to attend a theater school. She was primarily an actress while in her twenties, running a nonprofit theater company for six years. Although she sang now and...
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Blues for Breakfast, Mary Foster Conklin
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