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Simply...with Spirit by Hanna Richardson and Phil Flanigan

Too many young singers today come on with an affected jazzy veneer without really getting inside a song. So it’s all the more refreshing to hear the no-nonsense, straight-style of Hanna Richardson on her new release "Simply..With Spirit," a collaboration with her husband, bassist Phil Flanigan, backed up with a bevy of top-flight Eastern musicians-guitarists Chris Flory and Bob Sneider, drummer Mike Melito-and the amazing 87-year-old violinist Johnny Frigo.

Another intriguing plus about this CD is the selection of songs--tunes ranging from popular standards such as "Stardust" and "The Tender Trap" to nearly forgotten chestnuts from the distant past, including the Astaire favorite, "They all Laughed" and Joe Bushkin’s "Oh! Look at me Now"-and, most surprising, Richardson’s up-tempo version of the Ink Spots’ all-time favorite, "We three," from the ‘40s. Richardson’s warmth and radiance gives these classics new life.

Bassist Flanigan, as well, is given room to shine, particularly in "The Tender Trap." Here he alone sets down the groove for Richardson.

Guitarist Flory and Sneider also get to stand out, elegantly adding their touch in the background, with drummer Melito always in perfect time. The most pleasing contribution, however, comes from Frigo, an 87-year-old wonder, swinging Stephane Grappelli-style on several tracks, notably "Love You Madly" and "Detour Ahead." On the latter, his beautifully sad, mood-setting contribution sends shivers down the listener's spine. (Incidentally, he co-wrote this memorable ballad.)

On "Stardust" Richardson takes a breather, as Flanagan leads a subtly swinging instrumental version with the help of guitarist Sneider and drummer Melito. The melancholy tune is complimented by the buoyant "A Hundred years From Today." Here Richardson infectious style lifts us from the doldrums and makes us want to get out there and seize the day. Frigo’s violin and Flory’s guitar add to the joyous mood.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Hanna Richardson and Phil Flanigan
  • CD Title: Simply...with Spirit
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Arbors Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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