"...We'll be Remembering Christmas, when the family was with us,
The greatest of gifts we could own.
Remembering Christmas and the spirit still lifts us -
The gifts of the memories at home..."These lines come from the title track of what has become a favorite holiday listen for literally thousands of people around the globe; Frank Rendo's splendid CD, REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS. (Pictured: Frank Rendo/Remembering Christmas)
~~I've several blogs in RamblingsRegardingRENDO about this one, but I wanted to offer you this reminder now as Christmas gets closer and closer. Don't hesitate to order your REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS CD today!!! You can get your copy at http://www.cdbaby.com/, http://www.itunes.com/, or by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Frank FrankRendo@Yahoo.com.
- We Need a Little Christmas
- In The Bleak Midwinter
- Joseph's Song
- Remembering Christmas
- Bethlehem Morning
- What Her Heart Remembered
- The Secret of Christmas
- The Prayer
- We Wish You The Merriest
- Much Less Than Christmas
- O, Holy Night
- God Help The Outcasts
- Medley: White Christmas/Count Your Blessings
~~Frank is joined on this remarkable compilation by the super-talented composer, producer, arranger, singer and orchestrator, our sweet friend, the late Palma Pascale. (http://www.palmapascale.com/) Palma composed the title track, as well as the moving ballad "Much Less Than Christmas." REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS was engineered by the brilliance of Fred Guarino, owner and engineer of Tiki Recording Studios in Glen Cove, NY. http://www.tikirecording.com/.
~~Since Palma's passing on September 8th of this year, "Much Less Than Christmas" takes on a whole new meaning for those of us who knew and loved her. She was truly a capital friend to have. A brilliant composer with a superior imagination - Palm composed both the music and lyrics using her "less is more" philosophy. Each of her creations is filled with subtle beauty and the stories are easy for anyone to understand. They are, typically, stories most can relate to, somehow on a personal level, which, then, brings the listener ever closer to the exact emotion of the song.
~~Frank and Palma make such a dynamic statement together on REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS. Both of these fine artists have so much talent. Frank shines on each and every tune in this CD. He has a voice that, at times, is as powerful and strong as steel, yet, he can also sing so softly, so dynamically that you may wonder out loud just how he does it. To watch him perform, Frank makes each note his own - completely effortless, and he adds so much expression in his voice that you just want to laugh or cry right along with him; whichever emotion is called for! (Pictured: Palma Pascale & Frank Rendo in concert.)
~~"We Need A Little Christmas" is a Jerry Herman composition and comes from the Broadway musical MAME, starring Angela Lansbury, which was later followed by the motion picture starring Lucille Ball. The story speaks of being able to celebrate Christmas "right this very minute" and the song is fun, lively and it certainly sets the perfect happy tone for the listen you are about to experience.
~~"In The Bleak Midwinter" has lyrics penned by Christina Rossetti, the former poet, with music by Gustav T. Holst. This was one Christmas Song that had completely eluded me before hearing Frank's rendition of it. It's a very beautiful and intriguing song. You are sure to enjoy this one.
~~I had also never heard Michael Card's "Joseph's Song", until I heard it performed by Frank, and this has turned out to be a favorite even above the traditional songs of yesteryear. I'm completely taken by this one - my father was a "simple carpenter" and this one really hits home in some ways for me. This song is unique in its perspective and tells a story from Joseph's point of view - quite different than most anything out there - and why not, as Joseph was definitely a major "player" in the grand scheme of things.
~~This song is stunning and Frank's read of it is nothing short of spectacular, truly. Filled with such rich emotion, and both orchestrated and sung so touchingly, "Joseph's Song" will leave you wishing to hear more. Brilliantly performed by Frank. Bravo!
~~Palma composed Remembering Christmas, the title song, for one of her own Broadway Musicals. Such a good story, it easily stood on its own merits as a smart choice to be included in this line-up. Remembering Christmas is about family and the memories that families make by carrying out tradition and by enjoying and loving one another. And, it's about remembering Christmases past, when "the family was with us." It has a certain poignancy today that it didn't have last year. It's a fun song and Frank is even joined by an entire chorus of his friends at one point. Such an enjoyable piece.
~~It all but defies my abilities to describe Morris Chapman's "Bethlehem Morning." It's number 5 in the line-up. Sandi Patty made it popular, and as much as I enjoy her arrangements and that well-known power voice of hers, Frank Rendo's version leaves me, well....all filled-up! Palma's orchestration is spectacular. Many of the orchestra's voices can be heard as they work together to accompany that handsome, rich, clear voice of Frank's. He tells the story of this "Bethlehem Morning" flawlessly. Impeccable dynamics, intonation and phrasing - it's all there and the final result is one impressive song, to be sure. (Pictured: Frank Rendo in concert.)
~~"What Her Heart Remembered" is another composition by Michael Card co-written with Scott Brasher. The previous story of Michael's that Frank told us was from Joseph's perspective - Joseph's Song was such a lovely way to tell this significant story.
~~Now, however, we get a story that, rather than this one being a story from Mary, it's one about Mary. This beautiful ballad discusses how Mary handled being a mother....how, though she was the Mother of Jesus, she was a human mother and this song helps to depict that in a very interesting, wonderful way. I particularly like the beginning of the chorus where Frank sings:
~~"...Like a good mother would, she learned His cries. If he'd awake with a belly ache from hunger or fright. But, now and then, sometimes when the dark would descend He would weep a dark so deep - for all her love, she couldn't comprehend..."
~~Isn't that a great lyric? I enjoy this one, very much.
~~Do you know "The Secret of Christmas?" Frank believes he does and he shares it with you in this very nice tune with a laid-back Latin tempo. The theatrical orchestration on this one makes it a real stand-out and, in fact, at one time Frank had contemplated using this as the title of his CD. There's an interesting history to the actual song, and you can read more about it below in one of the blogs about REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS. One of the things I have learned about this tune is that Johnny Mercer had a hand in the writing of this one. Makes good sense to me.
~~Following "The Secret of Christmas" comes one implausibly powerful track where Frank and Palma duet together, singing Carole Bayer Sager and David Foster's "THE PRAYER." What a powerful composition this is. Very dramatic and just a lovely piece. Both Frank and Palm compliment one another as they interpret this power ballad. I've commented about this several times before, but it's such an important comment... Frank and Palm are two artists who just sing well together. Some vocalists are like oil and water when trying to duet - but these two are more like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Seriously, I have watched them perform this one and found it pretty interesting that even their on-stage, non -rehearsed interpretation of the song, via their stage gestures with their hands/etc. were right in-sync with one another right up to when they both reached "for" each other. It was something to take in. That sort of thing happens one of two ways: 1. Rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal and even that will tend to be very stiff and awkward looking, or 2. An absolute from the heart and soul sort of performance. This live performance by Frank and Palm easily fit only into category 2. Their interpretation is remarkably similar, and a real pleasure to observe.
~~I spoke to Palm about this once. She, too, was a bit taken aback when she realized how "choreographed" the performance was, yet the two of them never even discussed it. It truly came from that "place" way inside both of them. This is NOT an easy song to sing, or to perform live. Yet, Frank and Palma do so with complete confidence and ease, and it comes through on this recording. So, sit back, crank it up, and enjoy this spectacular rendition of "The Prayer."
~~And from that, we move right into the fast moving, straight ahead swing tune called "We Wish You The Merriest." This is an outstanding number that will make you smile as you listen. Joined by Palma, and brother and sister team Laurie and Father Charles Mangano, Frank swings this one expertly and easily. Also joining Frank on this one is a great Broadway player and sought-after studio musician, Glen Drewes on the trumpet, and the fabulous Tony Tedesco on the drums. It moves - it swings - and it is a great job by all. This one, too, seems to have Johnny Mercer's writing touch involved. Sounds like a Mercer tune, doesn't it?
~~"Much Less Than Christmas," actually written in 1973, and intended for the most popular duo of that time, The Carpenters, is a poignant story about an individual who will not be with the one he loves at Christmastime. In an interview with WHLI's Paul Richards, (http://www.WHLI.com/) Frank states "...the song is very apropos for me because we're in war time, and it talks about people who are not with us right now or are no longer with us, and we kind of miss them - like "I'll Be Home For Christmas" was during WWII. I kind of sing it with that longing...." And, it really works. "Much Less Than Christmas" - yet one more beauty written by the unparalleled talent of Palma Pascale.
~~"Someday" is the next track - words and music to this absolutely gorgeous ballad are by Rick Vale.
~~"...Someday, when this night is over and the star has faded and the angels fly - I will look at you with wonder, dreaming of this first night when I heard you cry. Someday, you'll take your tiny fingers, and with just a touch will...will cause the blind to see. Someday, you will walk with strangers, but tonight, I'll rock you - stay awhile with me..."
~~And if you think the lyrics are beautiful, just wait until you hear Frank's interpretation of this song, sung from the perspective of Mary. A really touching selection, this.
~~I have heard many, many artists throughout the years try their hands at interpreting and successfully singing the well-known O, Holy Night....and though I will admit to being the least bit biased, I have heard very few arrangements and vocal reads as literally "chilling" as Frank and Palma do with this one. Is this a Christmas favorite for you? If so, this one song, alone, makes REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS the ideal Christmas album for you.
~~The beauty of this song as it builds, and unfolds is quite remarkable. Frank's vocals and his expression and intonation - they're all spot-on. Well, well done! BRAVO!
~~And, I'm guessing you just might not think of number 13 on this CD, "God Help The Outcasts," as a Christmas song, am I right? "God Help The Outcasts" has become a fan favorite, and Frank is requested to perform it, often. Frank discussed why he included this song on his Christmas CD with Paul Richards at WHLI during his interview last December regarding REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS. Here is there exchange:
~~PR: "...the thought that went into this selection - how did you decide......I think I'll take something from a Disney animated feature and put it on my Christmas album...?"
~~FR: "...Interestingly, I had been singing "God Help The Outcasts" for a few years and that song always struck a chord with my audiences, so, when we had the opportunity to do this record, I said, you know, I should just add it to this because what a better time to sing this message that's about loving and reaching out to those in need....?"
~~It is, in fact, a song done so handsomely by Frank and orchestrated so outstandingly by Palma, that it couldn't miss on ANY CD, no matter the season.
~~You can feel the compassion from Frank as he performs this one from the center of his heart.
~~The final selection is an Irving Berlin Medley from the motion picture White Christmas - a staple in our home every single Christmas - "White Christmas and Count Your Blessings."It has some great songs for the season, with these two being the best of all of them.
~~It doesn't matter which genre Frank tackles - jazz ballads, swing tunes, pop ballads, or songs created for the theatre - he delivers them with style and flair. I encourage you to order your very own copy of Frank Rendo's fabulous REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS CD today. There are several ways you can order:http://www.cdbaby.com/, http://www.itunes.com/, or by writing to me at http://email@example.com or Frank at FrankRendo@Yahoo.com. You can also find them at http://www.amazon.com/ in the event you want to add a few for friends, family, teachers, hairdressers - anyone you hope will have an exceptional holiday.
~~May your days be merry and bright - as you hear Frank Rendo sing tonight!
~~Merry Christmas to all my readers! ~Tim
~~Photographs courtesy: Frank Rendo
~~WHLI: http://www.whli.com/ FRANK RENDO: (website links) Reverb Nationhttp://www.ReverbNation.com/FrankRendo MySpace:http://www.MySpace.com/FrankRendoMusic ShoutLife: http://www.ShoutLife.com/FrankRendo TIKI Recording Studios:http://www.tikirecording.com/ Samantha's Li'l Bit of Heaven:www.SamanthasLilBitofHeaven.org PALMA PASCALE: http://www.palmapascale.com