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Lou Harry's A&E

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Arts & Entertainment, etc.

12 Arts Days of Xmas: Day 2

December 14, 2010

Day 2: One of the downsides of downloaded music is that it makes a lousy gift. Good old-fashioned CDs, though, are perfect, especially when they find a common ground between the musical tastes of the gifter and the giftee. Plus, of course, they are easy to wrap and stuff in a stocking.

If you or your recipient have a fondness for the Great American Songbook, a love of all things Indiana, or a thing for jazz, I've got a disc for you--one that can be popped into the player immediately to warm up a holiday gathering, used to mellow out someone's commute, or serve as an introduction to a great Indiana songwriter.

Shannon Forsell's "The Nearness of You" (LML Music) is the first disc by the singer who almost singlehandedly brought world-class cabaret music to Indy by creating the Cabaret at the Columbia Club. The jazzy 11-song new release celebrates the music of Hoagy Carmichael (who played at the same Monument Circle address that houses Forsell's club).

Where many performers make their first recording practically an audition piece for themselves, Forsell is skilled and confident enough to generously share the stage with pianist Zach Lapidus, bassist Frank Smith, drummer Greg Artry, ukelele and trumpet player P.J. Yinger and saxophonist/producer Rob Dixon. All contribute to making this a disc that feels both familiar and new, with Carmichael standards such as "Georgia on My Mind, " "Stardust" and "Heart and Soul" sharing space with a few songs an average listener may be hearing for the first time ("Winter Moon," "Singe Me a Swing Song and Let Me Dance").

An added plus: All proceeds from "The Nearness of You" support education programs at The Cabaret (Which, FYI, is bringing to town Tierney Sutton, Andrea Marcovicci and Jil Aigrot--all outstanding singers--in early 2011).

Look for more of my 12 Arts Days of Xmas ideas in the coming days. You can find Day 1's gift here.

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