Beverley Church Hogan: Can’t Get Out of This Mood

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Beverley Church Hogan

Can’t Get Out of This Mood

(Café Pacific Records)

January 12, 2019

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

Ultimately, what makes a voice appealing is not just skill and the ability to communicate but cadence and timbre. A voice that is technically pristine can also be hollow, while character idiosyncrasies might please.

Beverley Church Hogan has a seasoned voice. It’s just chesty enough to add a pinch more emotion and affect between the lines.

Low notes palpably breathe. Almost everything arrives round-edged. She sounds honest.

Arrangements here are, for the most part, muted. This is not to say they’re without personality, but rather that none are aggressive. Awash with subtlety, each leads to the next, either slightly jazzy or languid, combined with the fluency of balladic mood. The band is terrific.

Rene Marie’s “Take My Breath Away” arrives as an undulating bossa nova with the flute in breezy flight. The word “stars” is airbrushed, and “secrets” extends. Backend vibrato is whispery. “You’re Looking at Me” (Bobby Troup) emerges neatly sandwiched between passages of “Midnight Sun.” Phrases have tails. It’s like listening to cursive script.

The guitar embroiders. There’s a shrug in Hogan’s tone, a wry memory.

“Wait Till You See Him” (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) is slightly punch drunk. Lyrics swing in, born on lilting bass and brushes, the trumpet is creamy. How such a light sound can come from brass is beyond me. The vocal caresses. Without the usual bounce and chirp, it’s convincing. “I Know You by Heart” (Cas Caswell) tiptoes in gratefully.

Stephen Sondheim’s familiar “Losing My Mind” begins with only piano accompaniment, making the number more raw and intimate than the way we’re accustomed to hearing it. If only Hogan had seen it through. Instead, the tune segues to noir jazz with a whiskey flugelhorn. Piano sashays. The music is fine, but we’ve lost rueful meaning. “I’m Through with Love” (Marty Malneck/Gus Kahn) is an unsurprised, luckless, half-way-through-the-bottle blues. Hogan plays a scene with each song.

The vocalist’s version of the Kurt Weill/Ogden Nash “Speak Low” is lustrously seductive. Though phrases are short, they’re not abrupt. Mid-tempo jazz conjures a club close to closing. The heroine’s been there all night nursing drinks; her mascara’s smudged from dreaming head in hand. One of the rogues in the band occasionally looks towards the bar. She’s tired, wary. The phrase “and me a thief” startles; “ends too soon” borders on plaintive.

“Time After Time” (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) closes the show led by an expressive guitar. Hogan’s vocal is suffused with warmth.
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The strings hand off to a sensitive trumpet. The number is ardent without feeling heavy. Low notes waver with sentiment. It saunters out.

Offered a recording contract years ago, Beverly Church Hogan apparently put off recording this CD for some time while making family her priority. The artist is a welcome addition to the community with her own distinctive sound. This is a lovely contribution.

The musicians are John Proloux (arrangements/piano), Ron Stout (trumpet, flugelhorn), Graham Dechter (guitar), Doug Webb (flute, tenor sax), Lyman Medeiros (bass), Clayton Cameron (drums), and Kevin Winard (percussion).

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen’s writing began with poetry, segued into lyrics then took a commercial detour. She now authors pieces about culture/the arts, including reviews and features. A diehard proponent of cabaret, she’s also a theater aficionado, a voting member of Drama Desk, The Drama League and of The NY Press Club in addition to MAC. Currently, Alix writes for Cabaret Scenes, Theater Pizzazz and Woman Around Town. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Times Square Chronicles. Alix is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards.