About The Album
Having worked together for nearly 25 years, songstress Sylvia Bennett and producer Hal Batt knew a special project was brewing when they decided to do an album of love songs from the American songbook and give it a twist.
A great song is a great song, but sometimes the style and texture can be updated to appeal to a broader audience. “Smile” is a collection of wonderful standards, recognizable, but all with a new flair.
“We took the swing out of swing songs and gave them an international feel,” says Hal Batt. The flavors are bossa novas, boleros and a new hybrid merengue. Inspiration came from a history of enjoying the styles of Sergio Mendez and Wes Montgomery.
Until a title emerged, the album was dubbed “the bossa project” and was a labor of love as the pair meticulously selected the songs and recorded them with brilliant musicians. Then, as Sylvia was listening to what was beautifully created, it truly made her smile. A title was born!
“There is so much heartache in the world, but no matter what we go through in life we can find something to smile about. Whatever happens, love helps us survive it. This is music that makes you feel life is worth enjoying!” Sylvia says. The music is grooving with luscious percussion and masterful guitar. The richness of the beautiful strings touches the heart.
Smooth jazz and pop vocalist Sylvia Bennett received critical acclaim for her CD, “Songs from the Heart” featuring the Three Tenors, saxophonists Boots Randolph, Ed Calle and Kirk Whalum, as well as “There Will Never Be Another You,” with jazz legend Lionel Hampton. Sylvia performed with Hampton for 10 years and was nominated for a Grammy for their big band album, “Sentimental Journey.”
Producer Hal Batt is a 2–time ASCAP winning songwriter and a Dove award winning producer. He is credited on multiple Grammy nominated albums and has worked with such greats as Julio Iglesias, Chayanne, Jean Carne, Sandi Patty, Shakira and Miguel Angel Guerra as well as with many others.
And, now Sylvia and Hal invite you to enjoy their latest creation and hope you smile all the way.
1. Look of Love ( 3:30)
2. Smile (3:58)
3. Witchcraft (3:33)
4. Shadow of Your Smile (3:44)
5. The Very Thought of You (3:38)
6. Make Someone Happy (3:50
7. I’ll Be Seeing You (2:56)
8. Where or When (3:46
9. Love is Here to Stay (3:06)
10. Night and Day (4:36)
11. Fly Me to the Moon (2:43)
12. What a Difference a Day Makes (2:43)
13. Sonríe (3:59)
14. Look of Love (Smooth Pop Version) ( 3:46)
Reviews for Smile
“Bennett’s warm–toned vocals serve her quite well here as she unleashes an assault on the Songbook in stylish fashion...Bennett’s treatment of this music delivers a musical experience sure to draw a well–deserved Smile.”
All About Jazz
“Sylvia Bennett’s evocative phrasing melts the listener’s heart. If you possess a fondness for romantic music, tastefully presented by a singer whose music flows directly from her heart to the listener’s ear then you should check out Sylvia Bennett’s album Smile.”
“It is amazing how versatile the Great American Songbook has become – and, of course, how much of an important resource for jazz vocalists and musicians it has become. That is the case with vocalist Sylvia Bennett – she has selected fourteen popular songs, many famous from usage in movies and musicals, and given them a Latin feel to update them. On the whole this works very well, even those normally associated with a swing beat.
And finally, but not least, there is Ms. Bennett's voice, light enough to glide effortlessly over the music, and also to be so completely wistful at the same time. This is an excellent album, rich in melody and rhythm and it reinforces that cliched idiom that ‘they don’t write them like that anymore’!”
–John M. Peters
“Smile displays Bennett’s fondness for suave bossa nova grooves and the pleasurable tones of orchestral feathering which accentuate the melodies graceful lines. Bennett’s treatment of the selection gives them an upscale polish that is reminiscent of the refined voicing of Rosa Passos, while adding in her own bewitching inflections. The smoothness in Bennett’s elocution of the verses in “The Look Of Love” is hypnotizing, and the trickling gushes of strings combined with throngs of traipsing piano scrolls in “The Very Thought Of You” lasso the listener in ringlets of love–inspired harmonies. The leisurely pitter–patter in the percussive flow of the song is angled to put romance on the mind, and Bennett shows a visceral sensitivity to preserve romantic tidings.
“Imagine a dozen American standards arranged in a bouquet of elegance, jazz and Bossa... no doubt inspired by the perennial south Florida colors and rhythms...SMILE delivers a contemporary yet classic audio environment. Retooling the classic tunes is one current music trend that I am happy to endorse and Sylvia Bennett’s SMILE rises to the top of my favorites...like cream!”
“Whether basking in either version of the Bennett/Batt “Smile” or in “The Shadow of Your Smile” or various other cozy cuddles of music on the album, there’s much smile–inducing on the CD.”