Ronny Whyte: Shades of Whyte

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Ronny Whyte

Shades of Whyte

(Audiophile Records)

June 5, 2017

Reviewed by John Hoglund for Cabaret Scenes

Memories are made of this. Today, the sophisticated era of Mabel Mercer and Bobby Short and their ilk would largely be forgotten if not for the likes of a handful of torchbearers such as Ronny Whyte.
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The man instantly recalls the greats of yesteryear while also offering a contemporary extension by way of introducing newer songs and some delightful originals. His brand of sensitivity and intelligence are the key to making him stand out in a world of mediocrity. It’s all here on this latest CD, Shades of Whyte, replete with a dynamite band, that serves as a beacon for a younger generation of singers and musicians.

This latest collection just proves how valuable Ronny Whyte is. He is an artist non pareil from that almost forgotten age. He echoes a time when lyrics meant more, with that something special. His deft understanding of the art of telling a story through music is a masterclass in refined interpretation.
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Here, with this grand assemblage of top notch musicians, he creates the perfect listening experience for anyone with good taste.

For this ambitious disc, that top-notch band includes: Boots Maleson on bass; Sean Harkness on guitar, Lou Caputo on tenor sax and flute; Mauricio De Souza on drums; Alex Nguyen on trumpet; and David Silliman on drums. All greats at their very best.

There are many highlights on this special recording. Particular standouts include: a romantic “I Love the Way You Dance” (Whyte/Frank Grant), and a jazzy “The Song Is You” (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II). Both represent different Shades of Whyte that connect on every level. The CD is filled with some rare gems that deserve to live on. A special find is Blossom Dearie’s romantic “Isn’t That the Thing to Do?

” (written with Len Saltzberg) that melts with the beat. “Love Me Tomorrow,” a rare treat by Vernon Duke and John Latouche, is given a devilish wink that swings with great solo turns by  Harkness and Nguyen. “Too Late Now” (Burton Lane/Alan Jay Lerner) might be the album’s best cut, as it caresses Whyte’s always warm vocals in a simple arrangement that is as good as anything Tony Bennett records.

Whyte’s original songs, like a frolicsome “I’ll Tell You What” or a melancholic “Blame It on the Movies,” show his exceptional versatility, and sound right out one of those MGM musicals with Astaire and Rogers. The same applies to “Dancing in the Dark” (Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz) that wraps up this package to perfection.

In the end, Whyte is perhaps best summed up with the lyrics to “I’m Old Fashioned” (Kern/Johnny Mercer): “I love the old fashioned things, the sound of rain upon my window pane… This year’s fancies are passing fancies… No frills needed. Ronny Whyte is a contemporary guy with an old fashioned spirit.

John Hoglund

For over 30 years, John Hoglund has been a respected entertainment writer covering cabaret, jazz, theater and recordings. His writings have appeared in numerous outlets including the Bistro Bits column for Back Stage. John moderated seminars and forums for the International Cabaret Conference At Yale. He produced many celebrity fundraisers in NYC including one of the first benefits after 9/11: “HeartSong:The Heroes' Concert” at The Bottom Line featuring 36 major stars. He co-produced “HeartSong2: The Heroes' Concert” for Katrina victims at Symphony Space and “Miracle On 35th Street” with a star-studded lineup. Other fund raising efforts include the first benefits for Broadway Cares and God's Love, We Deliver. John served on the Board of Directors of MAC for 12 years. He is well known for championing new and rising talents.