Personnel: Bob Stewart (vocals); Hollywood Sound Stage Orchestra; Tedd Firth Trio.
An undervalued entertainer, Bob Stewart has been in and out of the recording studio since the 1950s. His latest, Love Songs, is his fourth for VWC Records and like the other releases the program for this CD is dedicated to romantic standard ballads, each of which Stewart caresses ardently with his deep baritone voice. There is a preference for the works of Antonio Carlos Jobim, as the play list includes six of his masterpieces. Stewart comes from that line of crooners that include Bing Crosby, Vic Damone, and Dick Haymes. The depth of feeling he attaches to each song he sings is heard on each track, but is especially fulfilling on "My Foolish Heart," "Forget the Woman," and "The More I See You." Most of the tracks feature the Hollywood Sound Stage Orchestra, except for "Imagination" and "Last Night When We Were Young," which has Ray Cohen backing the singer, and "Forget the Woman," where the Tedd Firth Trio provides the support. This album recalls those days of dimly lit nightclubs where couples would slow dance to those tunes which have become the mainstays of American popular music. This CD gives almost an hour of classy performances of tastefully arranged, familiar love songs performed by a veteran singer whose impeccable phrasing creates a distinctive mood for each tune on the program. Recommended. ~ Dave Nathan