Philip Hernandez is a true Broadway star, having played both the antagonist and protagonist in the long running Les Miserables and with credits also including Capeman and Kiss of the Spider Woman. It was in Capeman where he met Oscar Hernandez who he asked to produce "The Beat Of My Heart" and many of the musicians heard on this CD were part of the Capeman pit band.
Philip Hernandez is also first generation Puerto Rican but grew up speaking mostly English and being involved in his American life in which Multi-Culturalism was not in Vogue or encouraged. After the birth of his daughter he had a life changing experience when he saw his father's face in his daughter's and realized there was another part of him yet unexpressed and unexplored. A need was born in him to re-visit and re-learn his Latino heritage so he could share with his new daughter the totality of his heart and self. He spent countless hours immersing himself in his father's language, culture and history. In this self exploration an artistic fusion was born which could simplistically be called Tony Bennet meets the Fania All Stars Meets Broadway,but it is oh, so much more.
For his Debut release he has assembled not only great material which perfectly showcases his broad emotional range but also three of the top arrangers in Latin Music and the very best of New York's Latin musicians. Arrangers Oscar Hernandez, Ray Santos and Marty Sheller each deconstruct and reinvent some of the Greatest music of the American Song book. "I'm old Fashioned" opens the CD at a burning tempo with Bobby Franceschini on Alto Sax and cooks hard. "Mirame" is a Classic Bolero and the only cut sung only in Spanish. and features John Benthal on guitar. Hernandez' voice is rich and compelling on this cut and has lost all trace of Broadway bravura revealing all the smoldering sweetness of a lover's tender passion. If he desired to give his daughter a gift of his Puerto Rican heart he does it here.
On "Night and Day" he pulls out his broadway chops over the burning Mambo groove, showing his multi-octave range and his ability to totally sell a song. I'm a Fool to Want You" is also a Bolero with dark, adventurous harmonies complementing the vaguely disturbing lyrics. If, as Hernandez says, all of these songs represent his life experiences, here he exposes naked longing and helpless attachment to a love he can never have but a love he believes in. The Classic Latin standard by Clare Fisher, "Una Manana" is an infectious Cha Cha Cha that will induce dancing fever in the most complacent and is sung with both Spanish and English Lyrics expressing totally different sentiments. On "For All You Know" he begins with the little known introductory lyric and gives it a gentle introspective reading. The seldom heard "While The Music Plays on" was originally heard by Hernandez on a Tony Bennet Album where it was performed as a ballad. It is scored as a Mambo here with a strong Jazz feel and has storybook lyrics and beautiful chord changes.
On "Autumn Nocturne he navigates perfectly the melodic twists and interval leaps. My Foolish Heart ends the set with pure beauty. Philip Hernandez has accomplished his desire to leave his daughter a legacy of the true beat of his heart and in the process has become a greater artist and human being. The Beat Of My Heart,is a gift from the heart from one of America's great voices who is an unashamedly tender spirit. He shows technical mastery, vast musical talent and years of experience infused with pure love. Great work!!