Winds Of Change
By Morton Robert
ocalist Izzy Chait has just released a new album, Winds of Change, produced by Don Peake, a member of the “Wrecking Crew” session team.
It’s a CD collection of American songbook tunes, featuring Chait’s impressive reinterpretation of material composed by some of his favorite songwriters.
Chait’s rich voice is backed by members of the Ray Charles band, including guitarist Peake and drummer Paul Kreibich. Violinist Scarlet Rivera, a member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue (heard on his Desire album), adds texture to the project. Legendary keyboardist Don Randi, bassist Chuck Berghofer, percussionist Bobbye Hall, and drummer James Gadson are also part of Chait’s sonic team. Bandleader Peake, who has worked with the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles, among others, assembled this dazzling lineup.
Part of the project was also recorded at Nashville’s noted Creative Workshop studios, where Izzy was joined by drummer Ken Coomer, bassist Paul Ossala and pedal steel player Steve Hinson.
To add icing to the cake, the album artwork for Winds Of Change was designed by John Kosh, who created the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be packages. Kosh is the former art director of Apple Records.
In a November 2012 HITS Daily Double review of Chait’s new disc, music journalist and reporter Roy Trakin hailed Chait as, “a smooth, soulful crooner in the mold of influences Billy Eckstine, Johnny Hartman and Oscar Brown Jr. Chait exhibits an incredible range of cover material on his latest album. Chait proves equally adept covering such chestnuts as his UCLA pal Yip Harburg’s Depression-era classic ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?’ and Kurt Weil’s ‘September Song’ alongside relatively contemp-orary material like Bobby Darin’s ‘If I Were a Carpenter’ (Peake did the song’s original arrangement), Leon Russell’s ‘A Song for You’ and a trio of Dylan covers, including ‘Forever Young’ with a spirited medley of ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ and ‘Lay Lady Lay,’ which only proves that Izzy’s voice is in better shape than Zimmy’s these days.
“There’s a welcome lived-in warmth to Izzy’s vocals,” concludes Trakin, “that turns the songs inside-out, transforming ‘Forever Young’ and ‘You Are So Beautiful,’ for instance, into almost rabbinical benedictions. Izzy tackles two versions of Hank Williams’ ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,’ one a slow, guttural blues tickled with Rivera’s sighing fiddle and Peake’s inspired picking, the other a hymnal, stately country take, complete with a spoken-word interlude.”
Izzy Chait, a Fairfax High School and UCLA graduate, is a tour guide who stresses to us during his album journey how pleasant and nice these songs still sound in his reworked audio presentation.
Speaking to writer Harvey Kubernik on his website (www.izzychait.com), Chait explained the concept behind his stellar collection of well-known copyrights and tunes. These melodic gems and some unearthed treasures have now come alive, highlighted by Chait’s distinctive interpretations.
“I wanted something to be reflective of the basic kind of song that was there,” he told Kubernik. “The tunes on this album are all across the board but they all have messages. Either of hope or of love that conquers all. I’m a child of the Sixties, basically, and we all wanted to and strived for change in those days.
“I was introduced to Don Peake and the experience immediately became very collaborative. We both had our own ideas. I didn’t want to make a bubblegum pop album, or a collection of songs that were particularly inspirational to me. I’ve already make a holiday album. I’ve made a love song album. My debut album was a straight ahead jazz album.
“I wanted to do things on Winds of Change that were outside the box and outside the envelope. Don and I had ideas and we just put our heads together. Don has a great studio in North Hollywood and it took off from there. It was very much not like any recording I’ve done before. But we still did it old school. We were actually in a little house studio. All the players were in the room. And again it felt like a unified message. The vocals are done in a booth where the band can see the singer and the singer can see the band. It’s a unified amalgamation of everyone’s intention. Most of the songs were taken straight from my initial scratch vocals. Of course I went in and re-did some of the stuff if there were areas that didn’t come out perfectly.”
The CD soars. Check out Winds of Change I believe we’re all going to be hearing a lot from Mr. Chait for many years.