This Is What I Am
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Hal Cragin, Andrew Hall (upright bass).
  • Recording information: Back Pocket Studios, New York, NY (1996).
  • Photographer: Larry Brandt.
  • Arranger: Tony Messina.
  • Though some of the 15 songs on this album have been done before, Tony Messina's connections to the Great American Songbook are as strong and moving as any. A tuneful adaptation of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "One Note Samba" (including a clever piano sampling of "The Summer Knows") mellows into the Gershwins' remorseful "Isn't It a Pity." A tempo-changing "Come Rain or Come Shine" swings into a bouncy take on Van Morrison's romantic plead "Moondance." The true high points of this diverse and fulfilled album, however, are Messina's own compositions. From the opening "Wonders of the World" -- a fresh cabaret-ish song about finding true, monumental love a bit later in life -- to the emotional title track of heartfelt lyrics wrapped in Messina's deep, soulful voice and the more up-tempo "It's a Loving World," Messina proves his talent on both sides of the staff. Taking the listener through a gambit of emotions and styles, Messina's only constant, it seems, is his talent and care in each and every performance. Every note is considered yet free. Every song digs into its own story and lets it fly into the minds and hearts of Messina's audiences. ~ Matthew Robinson
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