SAN ANTONIO Jazz crooner Ken Slavin’s new CD has people talking all over town. Better yet, it has them singing along from local radio stations and home stereo systems to automobile CD players and convention banquets.
"The Song is You" Slavin’s first recording since 1996’s "Tender is the Night," which raised thousands of dollars for the San Antonio AIDS Foundation has garnered raves from critics and fans alike. It not only reflects a new maturity and verve in Slavin’s jazz-oriented singing style, it commemorates the beginning of his second decade in the music business.
And thanks to the modern miracle of cyberspace, his new website, AHREF="http://www.kenslavin.com">www.kenslavin.comhas helped him to start gaining recognition outside of the Alamo City.
"This is the most exciting time ever in my career," Slavin says. "Since the time of the last recording, I believe I have finally ‘found’ my own voice. As a result, this project has been particularly rewarding. I am proud of the other two albums, but I feel more confident on this one. I hope folks will enjoy listening to it as much as I have enjoyed producing it and that it may open the door to performing outside of Texas."
"The Song is You" showcases the smooth baritone and unique emotive style that have made Slavin a favorite on the Texas music scene for more than 10 years. Since his professional debut on the rowdy stage of Dick’s Last Resort on the San Antonio Riverwalk on Valentine’s Day 1990, he has gradually and methodically applied himself to learning his craft and making in-roads on the local music scene, while continuing to juggle his full-time job as a public relations executive. He has never turned down a gig, having performed everywhere from burger joints and picnics to the Empire Theatre and the Alamodome. He also has appeared five times at San Antonio’s annual jazz festival, "Jazz’SAlive" most recently sharing the headliners stage with David Sanborn and Chico Hamilton in 1999.
His perseverance has helped him to become one of the city’s best-known entertainers. But he believes he’s still paying his dues.
"I started so late as a singer that I know, without a doubt, that I have lots more to learn! I also believe that if you ever think you’ve done it all or if you stop trying to learn and improve, you’ll write your own death warrant," says Slavin, who recently celebrated his third straight year as the featured weekend entertainment at San Antonio’s Fairmount Hotel.
The CD’s title song, by legendary composers Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern, sums up the recording’s central theme: every tune is devoted to "you." Without exception, every song focuses on a "you" in the title or the lyrics, making every selection intimate and powerful.
In addition to the title song, "The Song is You" showcases Slavin’s unique stylings of 10 other jazz and pop standards from the Great American Songbook. They run the gamut from a sizzling, up-tempo version of Nat "King" Cole’s jazz classic, "Route 66," to a sultry bossa nova treatment of Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim’s "Corcovado," to a sensuously romantic delivery of "Embraceable You," by George and Ira Gershwin. Other favorites on the album include "Since I Fell for You," a huge pop hit for the late Lenny Welch in the early 1960s; "It’s All Right With Me," a Cole Porter chestnut; "I Thought About You," by southern songsmith Johnny Mercer and "It’s a Good Day," a Peggy Lee standard.
Rounding out these classic selections is a new song by San Antonio composer Tom Masinter, "If You Go Away This Time," which represents Slavin’s first foray into original music. A rubado styling featuring only piano and voice dramatically showcases the haunting and highly emotional piece.
"This may be an exciting new direction for me, although I will never abandon my niche, which is putting my own stamp on timeless classics," Slavin says of his first recording of an original song. "Tom’s new song really touched me the very the first time I heard him play it. With his permission, I performed number in concert a couple of years ago. And now, I’m delighted that he allowed me to record it for this new album."
As always, Slavin has included some of San Antonio’s finest musicians on his new recording. The band on "The Song is You" features legendary jazz pianist Joe Piscatelle, who has worked around the world with such greats as Tony Bennett, Chet Baker and Liza Minnelli, and who accompanies Slavin every weekend at Polo’s at the Fairmount Hotel; young pianist and arranger Andrew Langham, who wrote most of the arrangements for the CD; veteran bassist Chuck Moses, who also appears with Slavin at the Fairmount and who has been his steady musical partner for many years; ace drummer Steve Glaeser, who has rounded out the rhythm sections of many well-known San Antonio jazz combos; and brilliant trumpeter Mike Berglund, a local jazz staple who also has traveled the state working with the retro-swing performer, "Mr. Fabulous."
The CD was engineered by Bobby Arnold at the noted Firestation Studio in San Marcos, Texas which in recent years has been the studio of choice for many well-known Texas jazz acts. (Arnold is highly regarded in Texas music circles, having engineered numerous award-winning albums for Willie Nelson in the 1980s.) Mastering was done by Jerry Tubb of Terra Nova Digital Audio Inc. in Austin a mainstay for major Texas recording acts.
"The Song is You" is available in select local stores, at Amazon.com, or on Slavin’s website, A HREF = "http://www.kenslavin.com">www.KenSlavin.com
For interviews or booking information, call 210-829-4650 or e-mail Slavin from his website.