A RARE GEM
Giovanni | Chicago, IL | 08/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ralph Sharon came over to the states in the early 50's and had moderate success as a pianist. His biggest and most fruitful alliance however, was yet to be. He was teamed with fledgling singer (and big fan) Tony Bennett, and the rest, as they say, is history. (Although the two parted ways amicably for a short period when Tony's career slowed in the late 70's, and Ralph wanted to spend more time at home, but soon rejoined forces and have been going strong ever since) This album was indeed recorded at 2:38 A.M., as the title says. Being a big Tony Bennett fan, this obscure import appealed to me. The subtitle, (Ralph Sharon Quartet 'and Friend') also suggested a spot for Tony Bennett somewhere on the sides as well. My musical instincts rarely fail me, for sure enough, on the track "FRIEND'S BLUES", Tony appropriately scats his way across a few bars of the song. (though he is credited nowhere, not even on the liner notes, which I suspect by reading and all the references the author makes throughout were penned by Tony) The liner notes say "when you work as closely with Ralph as I have, he makes MY musical abilities all the more easy to showcase, for instance. The author also mentions these sides were recorded in Chicago in 1958, after the author and Sharon's crew had finished a date at the Chez Paree (Bennett had a much acclaimed run here in Chicago in '58) Tracks like "OL' MAN RIVER" are close to the arrangement Bennett used, a fast, modulating, latin tinged swinger abetted by bongo beater extraordinaire Candido. Ralph's plaintive reading of a song The Four Lads (I think) murdered once, "A GARDEN IN THE RAIN" is an import from Ralph's homeland "across the pond". A great CD to play during dinner parties or just when you need to unwind after "one of those days", whether your'e a Bennett fan, Sharon fan, or just a great music fan!"