The album coincides with Tyrell’s newly extended contract with Café Carlyle to continue his seasonal residency through 2014. Tyrell succeeded the legendary Bobby Short who played Café Carlyle for more than three decades before his passing in 2005.
Complemented with longtime collaborators, Tyrell explores 13 of his favorite Cahn songs, illustrating their everlasting vitality. The musicians include guitarist Bob Mann, pianists Alan Broadbent and Quinn Johnson, bassists Ed Howard and David Finck, drummers Kevin Winard and Jim Sapporito, and feature soloist David Mann on saxophone, and Lew Soloff on trumpet. The arrangements are provided by a legendary group that include Alan Broadbendt, Don Sebesky, John Oddo, and Bob Mann, and is produced by Steve Tyrell and Jon Allen
During the late 50s and early 60s there was a shift in the American lifestyle. Among the political and cultural shift was an underlying new sex appeal, “There was a period in American pop culture where the old-world thinking ran into the sexual revolution. That’s around 1958. Before that, everybody was ‘goody two-shoes,’ sleeping in twin beds on TV. Then all of sudden, there was the Rat Pack, Las Vegas, James Bond, and Playboy magazine. Things started getting sexy,” Tyrell explains.
The idea to record a Cahn songbook project first came to Tyrell last year, after he performed “It’s Crazy,” at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va. (right outside of Washington, D.C.). It was one of the last tunes Cahn penned in collaboration with Tyrell’s friend Artie Butler, “It was a song that slipped through the cracks, Artie told me, so I thought it would be great to try a Sammy Cahn song that no one knew. We played it that night and everybody went crazy,” Tyrell remembers, “It was like finding a buried treasure.” Underscored with an after-hours blues feel, and graced with a sultry trumpet solo from Lew Soloff (Blood, Sweat & Tears), the song will undoubtedly be inducted into the big leagues of other Cahn classics.
Cahn was an excellent collaborator and one of his most famous partnerships was with Jimmy Van Heusen. Some of the other Cahn-Van Heusen covers featured on the album include such iconic material as “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” along with opener “Come Fly with Me,” a classic made famous by Frank Sinatra (who recorded 87 of Cahn’s songs), a dramatic reading of the amorous cautionary tale “The Tender Trap,” which was the soundtrack title song of the 1955 movie starring Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds; a stirring retooling of “All the Way,” another Sinatra-related classic, written for the 1957 drama, The Joker is Wild; the gorgeous, string-laden ballad “The Second Time Around; and the comely “Call Me Irresponsible,” an ambitious five-syllable word ballad that Cahn originally wrote for 1963 movie, Papa’s Delicate Condition, with hopes that the movie’s original star, Fred Astaire would sing it. Instead it sat on the shelf for seven years until the movie was finally made, starring Jackie Gleason, winning Cahn his final Oscar.
It’s Magic also toasts Cahn’s other main songwriting partner, Julie Styne, with the inclusion of the gentle makeover of the title-track, a song made famous by Doris Day; the torch-song classic “I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out the Dry,” written for the obscure 1944 stage production, Glad to See You; a titillating version of “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” an anthem that celebrated the return of American soldiers from World War II; the snazzy “Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week), a tongue-in-cheek gem written from a hard-working musician’s perspective who’s reveling in spending Saturday night with a paramour; and the disc’s misty closer, “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” written for the 1945 comedy flick, Anchors Aweigh.
Gene De Paul, another Cahn collaborator, is represented on the disc with the sumptuous reading of “Teach Me Tonight,” another chestnut associated with Sinatra.
Even though Tyrell’s a five-decade veteran songwriter, producer and music supervisor, who has worked with an illustrious and diverse array of artists (Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Aaron Neville, James Ingram, Diana Ross Ray Charles, and more), he’s dedicated his solo recording career solely to the Great American Songbook, starting off with his 1999 recording debut, A New Standard (Atlantic Records) and was the first in a new wave of contemporary artists recording the standards. Of Tyrell’s previous 9 albums, 7 have made the top 5, and 1 the top 10 in Billboard’s Traditional Jazz Chart.
Tyrell is also a two time Emmy nominee, and has worked with some of the most iconic directors in film and television such as Nancy Meyers, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Steven Soderbergh, Charles Shyer, and Hugh Wilson.