Tennessee Williams: Words and Music features songs taken from major plays of the Tennessee Williams canon – such as A Streetcar Named Desire (the Harold Arlen classic “It’s Only A Paper Moon”) and This Property is Condemned (Gene Autry’s “You’re the Only Star”) – in addition to lesser-known later works like Clothes for a Summer Hotel (Nöel Coward’s “The Party’s Over Now”) and Something Cloudy, Something Clear (the Oscar-winning Hawaiian staple “Sweet Leilani”). A sly take on the 1939 hit “If I Didn’t Care” is joined by Blanche Dubois’ flavorful prose from Streetcar; an elegant soliloquy from Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen is set to the solo guitar showpiece “Estrellita,” by famed Mexican composer Manuel Ponce. Other musical highlights include the dramatic theatrical showstopper “St. Louis Blues” and “New San Antonio Rose,” which becomes a comedic tour de force courtesy of Fraser’s distinctive yodel. The centerpiece is her thrilling voice, at points warm and rustic, at others bold and powerful.
The album is a vibrant document of Fraser’s concert The Tennessee Williams Songbook, which premiered at Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival last spring. David Kaplan – the show’s writer and director, as well as a noted Williams scholar and curator of the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival – has merged the songs heard in Williams’ plays with the words the playwright intended to join them. Together, Tennessee Williams: Words and Music tells a moving and passionate new story of their own.
ALLISON LEYTON-BROWN, who produced the album with Fraser, created the unique new arrangements and serves as Musical Director. She is exuberantly supported by J. Walter Hawkes on trombone and ukulele, James Singleton on bass, Wayne Maureau on drums, Jason Mingledorff on saxophone, Bobby Campo on trumpet and cornet, and John Eubanks on guitar.