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"This Will Be My Shining Hour"

This Will Be My Shining Hour

 

This Will Be My Shining Hour is the album that Danny Barrett almost never released.

The intervention of ten years, though, changed Barrett’s mind.
After all, the album was the idea of his son, Brad Albetta, bassist, producer. This Will Be My Shining Hour was recorded in October 1998 and is an emotionally affecting album that was well engineered and that included some excellent back-up musicians.

Some singers incorporate so much experience into their singing—the joys, the disappointments, the determination, the humor, the wisdom—that listenersfeel that they “know” them. Billie Holiday is the prime example. So is Jimmy Scott. Or Sheila Jordan or Andy Bey or Nancy Wilson. Danny Barrett’s singing arises from similarly ineffable wellsprings of spirit that connect with listeners. Through his careful choice of material, he personalizes the lyrics, as if the story he narrates in song is his own.

How fortunate we are that Barrett reconsidered. With well-considered articulation that provides full value to each note he sings and each word he expresses, his rich baritone voice derives from the timeless singers of standards whose value even aging rock stars now are recognizing. Danny Barrett always sang that way, ever since he heard a Dick Haymes recording of “It Might As Well Be Spring” in 1960. Consistent in his singing style ever since.

The first track, “Don’t Take Your Love from Me,” proceeds deliberately, slowly, as Barrett distills meaning from each phrase, even as he takes a few liberties, entirely within the mood of the song. Listen to his octave swoop from the near bottom of his range when he sings “Would you take the wings from birds / So that they can’t fly” at the start of the second chorus. Just as impressive is the way he builds that chorus to a narrative high point, His plea presented succinctly in less than three minutes.

“From Here to Eternity” lightens things up as Barrett sings a duo with bassist Linc Milliman to the first repeat. Then, pianist Steve Ash comes in to supply the chords and this version’s irresistible swing over the synthesizer’s sonic blanket supplied by Brad Albetta.

“Speak Low” receives a mambo treatment as the rhythm section’s clavé supports Barrett’s assured-as-always delivery of the lyrics, his ever-present cool contrasting with the instrumentalists’ fire.

Barrett introduces “My Foolish Heart” without back-up for the first four bars, as if he were speaking the words in wonder and with caution. Throughout the remainder of the song, the noticeable strength of Barrett’s voice is its range, just as effective with the song’s higher notes as with those that in mid-range that he sings with full open throat.

“Secret Love” takes off with the fastest tempo of the album, as if the song were its dividing line, representing the result of the first half’s build up and the set-up for the remainder of the album. Barrett sings.

“This Will Be My Shining Hour,” poignant and enriched by Stan Harrison’s tenor sax work, adopts a medium-tempo swing that engages all of the members of the group in its groove.

“Street of Dreams” begins the same way that “From Here to Eternity” does, as a duo with bass. This time, though, Barrett’s son plays electric bass throughout its entire length.

“Learnin’ the Blues,” on which Doug Petty plays piano & organ combines Barrett’s vocal exactitude with a shuffle rhythm in his most extroverted interpretation on the CD.

The final track mirrors the start of This Will Be My Shining Hour—with a song of loss and the pain of acceptance. But “I’ll Only Miss Her When I Think of Her” concludes the implicit story line of This Will Be My Shining Hour by letting the listener know that the pleads within “Don’t Take Your Love from Me” did not sway the subject’s intentions. She did take her love away. And “I guess I’ll forget her completely / In about a hundred years”—one of Sammy Cahn’s unforgettable lyrics.

Appropriately, Danny Barrett has dedicated This Will Be My Shining Hour to his parents, Nicholas Albetta and Florence Ellen Barrett, from whom he adopted his professional name.

-Bill Donaldson