Dean’s daugh­ter proves Martin is ‘For­ever Cool’

Best-sell­ing album fea­tures post­hu­mous col­lab­o­ra­tions with a new gen­er­a­tion of ad­mir­ers

Chicago Sun-Times - - SUNDAY SHOW - BY DAVE HOEK­STRA

The re­laxed na­ture of Dean Martin’s voice and style gave him ac­ces­si­bil­ity to id­ioms that in­cluded coun­try, swing and pop. But even Dean might find a strange brew in the new “Dean Martin: For­ever Cool” album, where he posthu­mously col­lab­o­rates with smooth jazzmeis­ter Dave Koz, Amer­i­can Idol fi­nal­ist Paris Ben­nett and coun­try star Martina McBride. Ain’t that a kick in the head? Whoa, Dean cov­ers that sig­na­ture tune with ac­tor/Bobby Darin wannabe Kevin Spacey.

I would have picked Bobby “Blue” Bland. Or where’s the Friends of Dean Martinez?

The best-sell­ing project was sparked in part by Dean’s daugh­ter, Gail Martin, who lives in Chicago.

“Capi­tol came up with the duet idea, but they didn’t want to do them like Un­cle Frank’s [Si­na­tra] duets,” Martin said in a re­cent in­ter­view. “It’s more like he is re­ally there within the per­for­mance.”

The early 1990s Si­na­tra duets projects were done with a live Frank in the twi­light of his ca­reer. Martin’s vo­cals are culled from his prime. Martin ex­plained, “Mu­si­cans went right in the Capi­tol stu­dio [Stu­dio A, where her fa­ther recorded] in Hol­ly­wood. I was there when Big Bad Voodoo Daddy recorded. They came in, played, worked on har­monies and they played Dad.”

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy leads off the project by jump­ing into “Who’s Got the Ac­tion” with a fluid, swing­ing rhythm true to the orig­i­nal Don Costa ar­range­ment. They also col­lab­o­rate with Dean and coun­trysoul singer Shelby Lynne on “You’re No­body ’Til Some­body Loves You.” The smooth Nelson Rid­dle-in­spired ar­range­ment makes for one of the strong­est tracks on the record. The most un­der­rated cut is trum­peter Chris Botti lay­ing back in deference to Dean on “I’ve Grown Ac­cus­tomed to Her Face.”

Martin was not afraid to step out and cite Paris Ben­nett’s hip­ster “Baby-O” duet with Dean as her fa­vorite track. “I don’t know this girl at all,” Martin said. “She can sing. I also like ‘ Kick in the Head’ with Kevin [Spacey also butch­ers Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”]. And one of my fa­vorite en­ter­tain­ers from when I was a teenager was Charles Az­navour [who tack­les “Ev­ery­body Loves Some­body” with Dean and a twi­light time tempo].”

Be­sides coun­try-pop star McBride , who cov­ers the non-coun­try “Baby It’s Cold Out­side,” the record is miss­ing the smoky coun­try el­e­ment that was close to Dino’s heart. Wil­lie Nelson is al­ways up for a duet with any­one, dead or alive.

“Dad thought he was the ‘Marl­boro Man,’ ” Martin said. “He loved coun­try. I re­mem­ber try­ing to sing ‘Hous­ton’ [writ­ten by the late Lee Ha­zle­wood], and I couldn’t get that sound. We were hav­ing din­ner be­tween shows at the Riviera. He asked the waiter to bring him a Coke in a bot­tle. The waiter brought it out and Dad poured out the Coke. My fa­ther got a spoon and hit it against the bot­tle. He said, ‘That’s what they used in the stu­dio.’ We went back on stage and I said to my con­duc­tor, ‘I fi­nally got it.’ And that’s what our per­cus­sion­ist used, a spoon against a Coke bot­tle.”

In a spe­cial edi­tion “The Mak­ing of For­ever Cool” DVD pack­age with home movies, Lynne says, “I’m not gonna lie — I’d love to be Dean Martin.” And Spacey re­marks that “in­tro­duc­ing Dean to a young gen­er­a­tion is the task of any es­tate or fam­ily.” Just like Elvis Pres­ley’s Grace­land, the Martin fam­ily is on top of this ef­fort. Last year they hooked up with EMI to li­cense the Dean Martin name and im­age. “For­ever Cool” is a re­sult of that ef­fort.

“Even this record is multi-gen­er­a­tional,” Martin said. “And Dad had a multi-gen­er­a­tional fan base. We’ve told EMI what we re­mem­ber, like the La­coste [French polo] shirts. Tuxe­dos. It’s smart to come up with that kind of stuff. He was brought back in ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and when they ad­ver­tised the Dean Martin roasts on television. You hear his voice on [the sound­tracks] of ‘Moon­struck’ and ‘The ‘So­pra­nos.’ He is and was cool. By the time he was in his 40s and 50s he knew what he did and he knew he did it well. And he picked the right stuff. Like my hus­band says, it is a good thing ev­ery­body liked him.”

Martin, 62, worked a lot with her fa­ther. Dur­ing the early 1970s she opened for Dean at the Sands and Riviera ho­tels in Las Ve­gas, cov­er­ing show tunes and Ella Fitzger­ald. She made sev­eral guest ap­pear­ances on “The Dean Martin Show” as well as “The Hol­ly­wood Palace” and “The Ed Sul­li­van Show.”

“He was a star from when I was very young and it never changed,” Martin re­called. “He used to say he was the only one in the house who was a straight man. And there wasn’t crazy pa­parazzi like there is now. Our fam­ily was never hounded.”

Martin di­vides her time be­tween Chicago and Palm Springs, Calif. One of her best Chi­town friends is Dutchie Caray, the widow of Hall of Fame an­nouncer Harry Caray. “She cracks me up and she has a home in Palm Springs, too,” Martin said. Some­where there must be a track of Dean Martin singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

“He was a star from when I was very young and it never changed,” says Gail Martin about her fa­mous fa­ther Dean Martin.

“For­ever Cool” is an al­bum of duets fea­tur­ing some of Dean Martin’s big­gest hits paired with con­tem­po­rary artists.

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