Thursday, November 20, 2008

Love Out Loud for John Pagano

[source: Rock's back pages] This small ensemble, which Bacharach is rehearsing for a tour that will jet around the globe in the next few months, leaves the early hits medley for one of his most current gems, "God Give Me Strength," a six-minute mini-symphony co-written by Elvis Costello ("He's one of the greatest songwriters in the world," Burt says) for the film, Grace Of My Heart.

As vocalist John Pagano scales the stately, elegant staircase of the emotional ballad, Bacharach seems lost in his own private cosmos. It's that place where he sees the sparkling vistas, the shadowy valleys and the breathtaking peaks, "the long line," as he calls it, of his rangy melodies. As Pagano nails the climactic line of the bridge--"I want him... to hurt"--Bacharach's head snaps around, then he waves the surrounding players into a breathtaking instrumental passage. As the song simmers into the last verse, he stands up at the piano and feathers the air with one hand, while chording with the other. This has long been his style, playing pianist and conductor simultaneously, the commander-in-chief, the Captain Kirk of the musical stage... John Pagano's only been on board for a month. It turns out that Burt remembered him from six years ago, when Pagano made a solo record for MCA. John had asked Burt to write something for the album, and even though Burt didn't have time, he was so impressed by the young singer's capabilities that he kept his name on file for future reference. Pagano has only praise for his employer: "He has such vision as a composer. What he sees in his head in terms of melody and arrangement is amazing. What a learning experience this has been so far!" Rest of article is here.

John Pagano's musical journey is evolutionary and with good fortune he has evolved into one of the finer interpreters of Mr. Bacharach's music. His presence on December 1 is a blessing.

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