Ten years after his quirkily titled debut album Who the Funk is Cliff Beach? earned four L.A. Music Awards nominations – paving the way for nonstop accolades, including four Global Music Awards and two World songwriting awards – the joyfully manic singer/songwriter is still swinging and grooving mightily, infusing originals and standards with his unique fusion of R&B and jazz and a voice that rings out like the jazz version of Stevie Wonder.
After multiple releases featuring original tunes, his latest romp You Showed Me the Way is fashioned as a tribute to one of his greatest inspirations, Ella Fitzgerald and features dynamic and innovatively arranged contemporary twists on 12 songs from her famed songbook – capped by a lone original, a peppy, sax punched celebration of “The Gift of the Blues.” While it may seem unusual for a male singer to pay such expansive homage to a female jazz icon, Beach’s ever-evolving artistry was heavily inspired by her facility for improvisation as well as her exploration of many different styles of music in choosing her repertoire.
With the exception of dreamy, string caressed ballad treatments of the title track, “How Long Has This Been Going On?” and “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most,” the collection is a non-stop feel good, old school soul-filled funkified party, from a rambunctious, brass-fired “That Old Black Magic” and struttin’, hipster cool of “Round Midnight” through a sly, simmering rendition of “Honeysuckle Rose,” and buoyant, sassy, scat filled twists on “How High the Moon” and (of course!) “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” Unlike many singers who stick a little too reverently to a traditional styled script, Beach imagines a world where Ella funks out while showcasing his own sparkling musical personality throughout.