Bunny Sigler is releasing a brand new version of a very old song. “Angel Eyes” has been around for decades. Over that time it’s been recorded many times by many different artists. That’s earned it a title as a “jazz standard.” Sigler, too, has been in the music game for decades. He’s sold lots of records and gotten lots of accolades during his career. While that career has focused on R& B music, this new cut shows that he’s capable of pulling off credible versions of songs in other styles. It’s a gusty move that only a confident veteran or young prodigy would dare and pays off quite handsomely for Bunny Sigler. “Angel Eyes” is a winner from the first.
Taking on a venerable standard like this is always a tricky or hit and miss affair. There’s little question that this tune is indelibly associated with Sinatra and, as such, anyone daring to cover it must contend with the ghost of Ol’ Blue Eyes. His shadow is long. To Sigler’s credit, however, you never hear even a syllable of uncertainty. His singing cuts through the years with a remarkable amount of presence and never fails to bring something of his own irrepressible personality to the work, You hear much about the experience he brings to the table in the way that he locks his voice onto the piano lines and complements them so well. This is a full on band performance in the sense that Sigler never leads, per se, but finds a way to create alongside his fellow musicians.
There is a smattering of strings that comes along with the arrangement perfectly fitting it with its conception as a piece harkening back to the 1940’s/50’s in terms of musical temperament. The recording, thankfully, never tries mimicking the technology and sound of the day but, instead, frames Sigler’s take on this classic in a modern production aesthetic that makes the song feel warm and intimate. Sigler, undoubtedly, successfully transforms his voice into something quite worthy of this piece, but it’s equally apparent that the soul and R&b influences he brings to bear exert a transformative effect over the outing.
Sigler’s long musical career has experienced many commercial peaks and valleys but, when you hear him now, it’s clear he’s moved beyond all of that. This is a performer turning his attention to music he loves and that his unique skill set qualifies him to cover in a very personal and imaginative way. “Angel Eyes” might intimidate many other singers, young and old alike, thanks to its lineage, but you never get any of that from Sigler. He sounds like a man discovering the song for the first time and lays out an inspired take on this solid, yet aging, classic. If you like jazz, particularly the crooner era of jazz music, you are going to love this. It has a classic sound that works so well. For fans of that musical style, I can’t recommend this enough.