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Kiki Ebsen - Scarecrow SessionsIn this album, produced by David Mann and arranged with Kiki, she pays hommage to her father, Buddy, after finding some of his memorabilia with each song tying to her father's career with many of the songs originating in his films.

Kiki Ebsen – Scarecrow Sessions

(Painted Pony Media)

Kiki Ebsen – vocals, piano
John Patitucci - acoustic and electric bass
Henry Hey – piano and organ
Clint de Ganon – drums
Chuck Loeb – acoustic and electric guitars
David Mann – saxophone and flute
Antoine Silverman – violin and viola
Sachi Patitucci – cello

My first exposure to Kiki Ebsen’s father, Buddy Ebsen, was in the black-and-white era of the TV show Disneyland, when he played Georgie, the sidekick to Davy Crockett (damn, those coonskin caps were itchy).  Buddy Ebsen starred in The Beverly Hillbillies for ten years, then Barnaby Jones, where I was a trainee and ran errands on the set.  Buddy was an unassuming man with a sly sense of humor who, when surrounded by the turmoil of making a TV series, would whisper, “It’s only a movie,” and smile.

He’s smiling now at this tribute album made for Father’s Day, Kiki having found some memorabilia of her dad in an old trunk of her mom’s – a find she considers “a gift.”  Here, she surrounds herself with the crème of the current jazz crop. Produced by David Mann and arranged with Kiki, the tunes all have some relationship to her father’s career.

Many of the Scarecrow Sessions songs come from Buddy’s movies (Born to Dance gives us “Easy to Love,” Captain January contains “At the Codfish Ball” (delightfully silly), Breakfast at Tiffany’s has “Moon River,” and the movie he was almost in – The Wizard of Oz – yields us  “If I Only Had a Brain” and “Over the Rainbow.”  His soft-shoe-inspired “Tea for Two” and “Comes Love” reflects his sense of humor. The trunk discovery was “Missing You,” a song written by Buddy and given a melancholy interpretation by Kiki.

The Film Noir choices include “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “Laura” (Buddy’s favorite song).  David Mann’s sax sets the mood and the string effects put you on a lonely street under a single lamplight, alone.

The jazziest moments come during “St. Louis Blues” – the piano trio approach is just right for this and we get that duet of Kiki and John P., another Patitucci solo and a nice break from drummer Clint de Ganon.  The little laugh at the end cements the impression of a casual Gin Mill performance.

The sound is excellent.  So are the understated and fitting arrangements. Like her makeup and costume on the cover, this is an Uptown production (think Café Carlyle) with a Downtown feel (the Half Note).  It’s highly approachable and there’s joy in the listening.  (Ron Wright www.rwsoiree.com)

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