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It Had to Be You

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Album Review

When Peter Nero served as musical director of the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra, his musical outlook wasn't unlike that of the sweet bands of the '20s, '30s, and '40s — essentially, he was giving you orchestral pop that incorporated jazz and classical elements. Nero, like the old-time sweet bands, usually doesn't appeal to jazz purists. But then, the pianist never claimed to be a purist himself. Released in 1994, It Had to Be You isn't among his orchestral projects; Nero leads an acoustic piano trio that employs Michael Barnett on bass and Steve Pemberton on drums. But the mentality that Nero brings to this ballad-oriented CD isn't much different from the mentality that he brought to the Philly Pops — It Had to Be You has one foot in instrumental jazz, the other in traditional vocal pop, and classical overtones in both areas. This is very much an easy listening album; a laid-back, easygoing mood prevails whether Nero provides instrumental versions of standards or features major vocalists, who range from Mel Tormé on "Long Ago and Far Away" to Peabo Bryson on "All the Things You Are" and Crystal Gayle on the title song. It should be noted that not all of Nero's guests were actually in the studio with him. Nero's piano trio recorded the basic tracks at Philly's legendary Sigma Sound Studios, where soul heavyweights like Thom Bell and Gamble & Huff produced so many great sessions in the '60s and '70s. But most of this album's vocals were recorded in New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville and subsequently overdubbed when the mixing took place. Jazz fans tend to take a dim view of overdubbing, but it works well enough for Nero on this pleasant, if less than exceptional, mood album.


Born: May 22, 1934 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Peter Nero (born Bernard Nierow, 1934, Brooklyn) is a pianist and New York native who started with Paul Whiteman, then moved up to symphony until the early '60s, when RCA Victor signed him and successfully promoted him into a pop music interpreter. He won the 1961 Grammy for Best New Artist. His lush orchestrated albums continued through the early '70s, when he returned to a harder jazz format, recording with a trio. Nierow began playing piano as child, learning the instrument quite rapidly; by...
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It Had to Be You, Peter Nero
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