Producer/pianist Anthony Panacci and recording artist/vocalist Mary Panacci took their time, and thoroughly enjoyed every nuance of putting this recording project together.
They deftly selected a tasty menu of songs that not only suited Mary’s voice and style, but incorporated multi-lingual versions of several songs, embracing Mary’s Italian/European heritage.
Additionally, Mary was able to select musicians for the recording with whom she has performed throughout her career – which made the CD very personal and very special indeed. Throughout the entire production process, food, drink and of course, “the hang” were a creative and integral part.
Kicking off Her Perfume is a swingingly contemporized take on the Donald Kahn/Stanley Styne hit, “A Beautiful Friendship”. A huge hit for Nat “King” Cole, Mary puts her own distinctive stamp on the melodic line, and Shelly Berger’s arrangement literally snaps and crackles with energy. The track also features a dynamic trombone solo by Russ Little.
Next up is the charming “How About You” (Burton Lane and Ralph Freed) – originally sung by Judy Garland in the film “Babes on Broadway” – and sung here by Mary and guest artist, smooth, swinging and debonaire jazz vocalist John Alcorn. Alcorn and Mary’s vocals sinuously intertwine through a unison scat section with gorgeous results, and in addition to all of that, we also get a beautiful guitar solo by Rob Piltch!
Following on the menu is “Love is Stronger Far Than We/Al Cuore Non Comandi Mai” (by Frances Lai), which was first heard in 1966’s hit film “A Man and a Woman” – although she was not heard on the original score, many will remember Brazilian vocalist Astrud Gilberto’s French and English version. On HER PERFUME, Mary sings it stunningly in both English and Italian. Anthony Panacci’s evocative and tasty piano solo is complimented by Shelly Berger’s breathtaking string quintet arrangement.
An appropriate follow-up on the album is “Double Rainbow/Chovendo Na Rosiera”, composed by the immortal Antonio Carlos Jobim, and featuring soaring soprano sax work by John Johnson and a masterful Fender Rhodes performance by Anthony Panacci. Mary’s pitch-perfect, crystalline vocal tambre is perfectly suited to the subtle elasticity of this composition.
A delightful inclusion is Ivan Lins’ moving and romantic ballad “Love Dance”. A mid-70’s mega hit for guitarist/vocalist George Benson, Mary’s contemporary rendition evokes a deeper, more sensual and emotional aspect of the composition. Mike Murley’s warm, rich and sonorous tenor sax is the perfect sonic match for Mary’s vocal pure, pristine vocal sound.
Climbing into the “way back machine” for just a moment on this eclectic musical journey, we find that track number six is the immortal standard “Tangerine” (Johnny Mercer/Victor Schertzinger), which was written for the 1942 Paramount picture, “The Fleet’s In” starring a youthful Betty Hutton, but most commonly associated with the late Jimmy Dorsey chirp, Helen O’Connell. Mary Panacci’s new version, features some vocal “trading 4’s”, with trumpeter Steve McDade, a relentlessly swinging arrangement and a powerful tenor sax solo by Kelly Jefferson.
A true stand-out in the collection has to be “I Wish You Love” – a re-boot of a popular French song written by Léo Chauliac in 1943. After the addition of some notable English lyrics by Albert Beach, it became the 1957 break-out hit for Keely Smith and has been recorded by numerous artists and appeared in many films – both post-war and contemporary – presented here with a goose-bump inducing arrangement and muy soave vocal and guitar solo by special guest Luis Mario Ochoa as well as Mary’s lovely and facile Spanish/English vocal.
A track that Mary is particularly proud of is the bluesy, original title song, “Her Perfume”. An inspired collaboration between Mary Panacci, Shelly Berger and Anthony Panacci, this composition allows Mary to show a refreshing funky and soulful aspect of her style, with the arrangement being complimented by a dynamic tenor sax solo from Michael Stuart.
In contrast, the tune to follow is “A Child is Born” (Thad Jones and Alec Wilder), which notably appeared on the Bill Evans/Tony Bennett 1977 duo recording, Together Again. There are few jazz/waltz/lull-a-byes that are as stunning, and Mary has added her own diaphanous vocal to this nothing-short-of-brilliant track. Kevin Turcotte’s thoughtful and luscious trumpet solo is the icing on this very stunning cake.
The tenth selection on the programme is “Almost Like Being in Love” (Lerner and Loewe), which was written for the 1947 Broadway smash musical “Brigadoon”, and later sung in the MGM Film version by Gene Kelly. The song has special meaning for Mary, as she recorded her now nineteen-year-old daughter, Natalie singing this tune when she was only five as a Christmas gift for her father (Mary’s husband), Anthony Panacci. The past and the present are woven together with this very personal interpretation, featuring an audio clip from the aforementioned childhood recording merged with a present time duet between Mary and her now grown-up daughter, Natalie.
The closing track, “Some Other Time” features Mary rendering a gorgeous melody by Leonard Bernstein and interpreting the genius lyrics of Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Written for the hit Broadway musical, “On the Town”, one of the most moving versions was recorded in the mid-1970’s by the late Irene Kral and pianist Alan Broadbent. This tune first appeared on Mary’s radar when she was just finishing up her music education at Humber College, and was having some post-collegiate self-doubt. Mary’s friend Lisa Martinelli sang the song to her, and they later performed it together at a memorial for their mutual teacher, Brian Harris. Those insecurities of times passed have long since dissolved, as Mary explains, “It is now befitting after all of these years to feel satisfied with where I am in my life, and to sing this song with joy.”