Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Lainie Kazan’s classic ’60s albums available for the first time in almost 60 years!

Available for the first time in the nearly 60 years since they were introduced, the four spectacular 1960s vocal albums from Lainie Kazan – the Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe-nominated stage and screen star – are now streaming on all digital platforms.

Long sought after collector’s items never on CD or any format since they first appeared on vinyl, Right Now! (1966), Lainie Kazan (1966), The Love Album (1967), and Love Is Lainie (1968), were originally released by MGM Records. Now they have been remastered from the original tapes, and are available via Universal Music Group’s Republic Records to be discovered by a new generation of music lovers. A deluxe CD set is being planned for next year. For now, listeners can stream and download the albums — Right Now!Lainie Kazan, The Love Album, and Love Is Lainie on Spotify, Apple Music and other digital platforms.

From making a splash in the original Broadway production of Funny Girl,and appearances on major sitcoms, to movies from Beaches to the My Big Fat Greek Wedding trilogy – including the most recent installment last year – Lainie Kazan has been a consistent and significant pop culture presence for six decades. She signed to MGM Records as a fresh face on the scene and these albums, at turns dramatic and playful, display her ravishing vocal range and exuberant personality. Employing a who’s who of the era’s top-shelf arrangers and producers, the albums’ swaggering brass and full, sumptuous strings are befitting a star of her caliber.

The albums were largely conceived and conducted by Peter Daniels, who met Lainie while conducting the original Broadway production of Funny Girl and eventually became her husband.

Right Now! (1966), Lainie’s debut album, was released in February of the year to coincide with a concert engagement at Mister Kelly’s, Chicago’s famed supper club. Produced by Don Costa – the Grammy-nominated veteran behind classic albums from Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, and Tony Bennett – the record bears all the signatures of Lainie’s recordings, combining beloved chestnuts with distinguished discoveries. Opening with a rousing “Blues in the Night,” the LP features two songs from the rarely staged Harold Arlen and Truman Capote Broadway musical House of Flowers, the title cut and “Don’t Like Goodbyes.” Herhaunting interpretation of the traditional folk song “Black, Black, Black,” better known as “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” usually taken at a languid pace, is transformed into a tempestuous showstopper. The album’s centerpiece is a dazzling rhythmical version of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s “Feeling Good,” altogether different from Nina Simone’s now-standard arrangement.

Lainie Kazan (1966), her second album released that year, is anchored by treasured songs from Broadway (My Fair Lady’s “Show Me”) and Hollywood (Meet Me in St. Louis’s “The Trolley Song”), in addition to two selections from the Gershwins’ and DuBose Heyward’s Porgy & Bess (“Summertime” and “My Man’s Gone Now”). “Peel Me a Grape,” known later from slinkier, slower recordings by Blossom Dearie and Diana Krall, is an exciting up-tempo tour de force, finishing with that distinctive Kazan cackle. The lively “Lark Day” was co-written by The New Christy Minstrels guitarist Art Podell. “(We’ll Meet) In the Spring,” a tender ballad written just for her by Peter Daniels, allows Lainie to show her softer side.

The Love Album (1967) is the most lush and sweeping collection of the four albums. The strings echo Lainie’s emotions as she dives into paeans to doomed romance like “I’m a Fool to Want You” and “If You Go Away.” But she also relishes the blush of love in Frank Loesser’s “Warm All Over,” from his 1956 operatic musical The Most Happy Fella, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “I Have Dreamed.” The lightly swinging “Sweet Talk” – a Cy Coleman gem, written with lyricist Floyd Huddleston – is a sensuous delight. She includes a rare pop version of “Take It Slow, Joe” from the Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg Broadway musical Jamaica, a 1957 Lena Horne vehicle. The LP concludes with an unusually delicate take on “Everybody Loves Somebody,” of course a signature number of Dean Martin, Lainie’s longtime mentor and champion.

Love Is Lainie (1968) marks an appealing shift from the standards and show music of the first records to more contemporary material, all rendered with that trademark Lainie flair. The album features an all-star list of arrangers, including Grammy winner Claus Ogerman (Billie Holiday, George Benson), Oscar nominee Pat Williams (Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka), and Grammy nominee Bob Florence (Count Basie, Sergio Mendes). Burt Bacharach and Hal David are represented by four tracks, including two less often heard songs: “The Windows of the World” and “They Don’t Give Medals (To Yesterday’s Heroes).” A definite highlight is her bravura performance of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” often recorded in the ‘60s and beyond, but rarely heard with such thrilling grandeur. The LP is rounded out with selections from the Young Rascals, Bobbie Gentry, and the song “Flower Child,” the rare psychedelia entry in the Kazan canon. The album ends with the plaintive spoken-word piece “Song Without Words”— set to the sparkling guitar of Wrecking Crew legend Tommy Tedesco – one of a few album tracks written by the decade’s best-selling musical poet, Rod McKuen.

About Lainie Kazan 

She is the embodiment of the word “entertainer” – an artist who has reached the pinnacle in virtually every area of performance. Ms. Kazan began in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, where she played a Ziegfeld showgirl and understudied the leading lady, Barbra Streisand. She finally got her chance to perform the title role a year and a half after its Broadway opening. Lainie performed the lead role twice in one day, and received accolades that launched her extraordinary career.

Lainie has also appeared on Broadway stage in The Government Inspector, with Tony Randall; My Favorite Year, with Tim Curry (Tony Award nomination); and produced and starred in the Ethel Merman tribute, Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly. Her regional credits include: A Little Night MusicThe RinkMan of La ManchaThe Rose TattooGypsyWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Hello Dolly!Fiddler on the RoofOrpheus DescendingPlaza Suite, and Bermuda Avenue Triangle, with Joseph Bologna and Renée Taylor.

Her film credits include: My Favorite Year (Golden Globe nomination), Francis Ford Coppola’s One from the Heart, Steven Spielberg’s Harry and the Hendersons, Paul Bartel’s Lust in the DustDelta ForceBeachesThe Cemetery ClubThe Big HitThe AssociateWhat’s Cooking?Bratz, Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Pixels, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 1-3. She recently appeared in Tango Shalom, the #1 indie film release of the summer in 2021.

On television, Lainie’s credits include: “St. Elsewhere” (Emmy nomination), “The Paper Chase” (CableACE Award nomination), “The Nanny,” “Strong Medicine,” “Veronica’s Closet,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Will & Grace,” “My Big Fat Greek Life,” “Boston Legal,” “Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Modern Family”, and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Most recently she guest starred on “The Kominsky Method” and “Fuller House.”

Lainie has performed in nightclubs, grand hotels, and concert halls around the world. She partnered with Hugh Hefner and opened “Lainie’s Room” and “Lainie’s Room East” at the Los Angeles and New York Playboy Clubs. In addition to the MGM recordings, she produced her most recent albums, In the Groove and Body and Soul, with David Benoit for the Music Masters label. Recently she performed to sold-out houses at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s in Los Angeles, 54 Below in New York, Vibrato in Bel Air, and The Purple Room in Palm Springs.

Lainie serves on the board for the Young Musicians Foundation, AIDS Project LA, and B’nai B’rith. In 2008, she had the honor of being a Grand Marshall for the Salute to Israel Parade in New York. Lainie is a graduate of Hofstra University with a B.A. in Speech and Drama, with a minor in Education. She is an adjunct professor at Hofstra University’s School of Communications, where she is on the advisory board. She is also on the board of the Screen Actors Guild and The Young Musician’s Society. Lainie studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse and studied voice with Joseph Scott for 20 years. She also studied with Lee Strasberg for 5 years and is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio. Since 2012, Lainie has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she teaches the course “Acting for the Singer.” In 2020, she joined the faculty of NYU, teaching an online class.

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