Tell It Like It Is

Tell It Like It Is

by Thomas Quasthoff


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Classical-pop crossover is almost never a good idea. Those who attempt it from the pop side seem to achieve dire results at best, and their counterparts on the other end of the divide rarely fare much better. While such efforts are laudably ambitious and aesthetically expansive, the fact remains that those who have learned their craft on one side of the fence or the other are simply best qualified to understand that tradition's requirements and most likely to meet them. German classical bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff, however, seems to be an unusual exception to this rule of thumb. He began venturing beyond a classical repertoire in 2007 with The Jazz Album: Watch What Happens, on which he successfully tackled the Great American Songbook, and on Tell It Like It Is, Quasthoff takes an even greater leap by venturing into R&B. Unlike others who have attempted similar shifts, Quasthoff leaves the bulk of his classical training on the shelf while tackling pop-oriented material: of course, his spot-on pitch, impressive range, and clarity of tone are like fingerprints that can never be disguised, and they serve him in good stead here. In fact, if one came to Tell It Like Is with no knowledge of Quasthoff's previous work, it would be nearly impossible to guess that he's primarily a classical singer. His graceful understatement, bluesy bends, and undeniable sense of swing -- all marks of a great R&B vocalist -- are brought to bear throughout the album. Quasthoff tends to be more successful tackling straight-up R&B tunes -- including the Ann Peebles hit "I Can't Stand the Rain," Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love," and the Art Neville-penned title track -- than on the more singer/songwriter-oriented cuts, like John Hiatt's "Have a Little Faith in Me" and Randy Newman's "Rider in the Rain." Still, Quasthoff deserves kudos for the acidic sense of humor required to tackle Newman's "Short People," given the disability that affects him. Interestingly, although Quasthoff's classical training never once gets in the way here, his German accent occasionally does; for the most part, he handles the English lyrics deftly, but every once in a while, his nationality peeks out of his voice just a bit, momentarily diverting the focus from the song. Nevertheless, these moments are few and far between, and Tell It Like It Is remains largely a triumph against the enormous odds faced by any classical singer trying to jump over -- however temporarily -- to the pop side of things.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/27/2011
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
UPC: 0028947786146
catalogNumber: 001594602

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Thomas Quasthoff   Primary Artist,Vocals
Dieter Ilg   Bass,Background Vocals
Jay Newland   Mandolin,Background Vocals
Wolfgang Haffner   Drums,Background Vocals
Frank Chastenier   Piano,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Piano (Grand),Piano (Upright),Hammond B3
Walter Gauchel   Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Christian Grabandt   Trumpet
Martina Frank   Background Vocals
Wieland Reissmann   Background Vocals
Michael Quasthoff   Background Vocals
Bruno Müller   Guitar,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Willie Dixon   Composer,Text
Percy Mayfield   Composer,Text
Hoagy Carmichael   Composer,Text
John Hiatt   Composer,Text
Randy Newman   Composer,Text
Bill Withers   Composer,Text
Tony Joe White   Composer,Text
George Davis   Composer,Text
Don Bryant   Composer,Text
Bernard Miller   Composer,Text
Jay Newland   Producer,Engineer,Engineering
Ann Peebles   Composer,Text
Stevie Wonder   Composer,Text
Stuart Gorrell   Composer
Dirk Rudolph   Art Direction
Harald Hoffmann   Cover Photo
Frank Chastenier   Arranger
Calvin Hardaway   Composer,Text
Jean-Claude Poyet   Liner Note Translation
Lee Diamond   Composer,Text
Richard Evidon   translation,Liner Note Translation
Matthias Spindler   Executive Producer
Wieland Reissmann   Arranger
Steve Correll   Text
Michael Quasthoff   Composer,Text
Götz Bühler   Liner Notes
Conrad Hensel   Engineer

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