The actress and singer chatted to us about creating her debut album ‘Remember’.
What can we expect from your debut album? This album in my own way is a love letter to The Great American Songbook. It is filled with music that I love and that so many people will know, even if they don’t know where they know it from. Every song on the album is there for a reason, some are incredibly personal to me, though I think that everyone will find their own way to connect with the majority of them. The Great American Songbook and the “standards” from it are as popular today as they were more than half a century ago, and the music seems to transcend the era in which is was written. I hope that I have captured the essence of how these songs were originally written, whist putting my own spin on them. The choice to use a piano trio means that rather than being a jazz album, it leans more towards easy listening with influences from classical, jazz and theatre styles.
How did the idea for the album come about? I have wanted to create an album for as long as I can remember but I didn’t want to do it ‘just because’. I have always been drawn to the music of Golden Age Musical Theatre and The American Songbook so creating an album of this music felt authentic to me. The first thing I decided a couple of years ago was that if I ever did record an album, I’m Old Fashioned by Jerome Kern would be on it. I adore the song and every time I sing it I smile. I think I took the idea of that song being on an album and ran with it!
Have you any favourite songs on the album? An impossible question!! There are so many!! I’ll Be Seeing You is recorded for my Dad. He passed away just as I turned 20 and I knew I wanted a song for him on the album. The lyrics by Irving Kahal are just painfully beautiful, it has one of my favourite ever song lyrics which is “I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.” When it came to singing that in the studio I became surprisingly emotional. I did consider doing a re-take but vocal ‘perfection’ is really not what that song is about. These Foolish Things is one of my Mum’s favourite songs and is actually the only song not from The American Songbook. It was written by English writers Jack Strachey and Holt Marvell (the same team that wrote A Nightingale Sang In Berkely Square) and though it was written in 1935, I’d only ever heard contemporary versions of the song. I tracked down some original sheet music that was in Eb (which put it in a very different vocal placement from recordings I’d heard) and sang it at the piano. Luciano (the arranger) created something really stunning with this song. Apart from those two, All The Things You Are is another Jerome Kern which I’ve sung for years and is the finale to my one-woman show The Soprano Behind The Screen. When I sang the new arrangement though I fell in love with it all over again, the way the piano flows with the line of the strings is just beautiful. That arrangement is now the one in the show too! What More Do I Need? is a Sondheim song which has been in my repertoire for years and years. This arrangement is so clever and so much fun to sing. There are so many stylistic changes in it that it really keeps you on your toes! I’m proud of every song but I’m extra proud of the title track Remember. I desperately wanted to include an Irving Berlin song, he wrote over 1000 though so there were quite a few to choose from! I found an old piano/vocal copy of Remember, sat at the piano, played through it and fell in love with it. Again, Luciano created something really special with that one and I think the movement in the piano part really modernises it in a classy way. So far the only person that recognises that song is my Grandma! I Love Paris is also a special one. My Grandad is the jazz influence in my life and I spent my teenage years living in Paris with my parents so this had to be there. I actually don’t think that the song has ever been done with a piano trio and I know it was a trickier one to arrange with this instrumentation but I love our version of the song. I’ll admit, I’ve talked about half the album here but I’m so proud of how they have all turned out.
How long have you been working on the record and were there any challenges? In many ways this album has been in progress for years, some of the songs on it have been with me since my late teens while others are fairly new. I began playing around with arrangements myself to gauge the type of thing I wanted to create before getting in touch with my Musical Director and subsequently, the album’s arranger who began his work in July 2020. We recorded the album 10 months later in May 2021 and it will be released in October 2021. I’ve been quite fortunate that a fellow artist who had recorded her debut album a couple of years ago guided me in the general process before I began doing too much, but one area that she couldn’t guide me in was the song choosing process. That was definitely the hardest part for me. There were so many options but I was really particular in what I wanted. I wanted the whole thing to work together as one piece of art that you could either sit and listen to, or just have on as relaxing music while you’re at home. That’s why there are some stunning arrangements created that didn’t make it onto the final record – they will definitely be included in live concerts though.
What is next in store for you? ’ll be performing my solo show at Toulouse Lautrec in Waterloo on 17th October with the band that recorded the album. We’ll be performing all of the songs from the album as well as those that didn’t quite make it onto the record. I’m really excited about that, my band (Grace Buttler on Violin, Joe Keenan on Cello, Oliver Pooley on Drums, and Connor Fogel, my Musical Director) are so wonderful and I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to perform Luciano’s arrangements live.
By Emma Clarendon
To find out more about the performance at Toulouse Lautrec on the 17th October visit: https://www.toulouselautrec.co.uk/event/remember-live-album-charlie-jade-jones/