Two-time Tony Award nominee Alison Fraser's Tennessee Williams: Words and Music album merges songs featured in the works of the iconic playwright with select readings of his flavorful prose. The album, recorded in New Orleans with the rollicking band The Gentlemen Callers, combines theater and traditional jazz in an exciting new hybrid. Using country-western ballads, Mississippi blues, Latin love songs as well as classic standards, the album paints a striking new picture of a literary titan.
Tennessee Williams: Words and Music features songs taken both from major plays of the Tennessee Williams cannon – such as A Streetcar Named Desire (the Harold Arlen standard “It’s Only A Paper Moon”) and This Property is Condemned (Gene Autry’s “You’re the Only Star”) – in addition to lesser-known later works like Clothes for a Summer Hotel (Nöel Coward’s “The Party’s Over Now”) and Something Cloudy, Something Clear (the Oscar-winning Hawaiian staple “Sweet Leilani”). Other highlights include the dramatic theatrical showstopper “St. Louis Blues” and “New San Antonio Rose,” which becomes a comedic tour de force thanks to Fraser’s distinctive yodel. The centerpiece is Fraser’s thrilling voice, at points warm and rustic, at others bold and powerful.
The album is a vibrant document of Alison’s one-woman show Only a Paper Moon: A Tennessee Williams Songbook, which premiered at The Tennessee Williams Festival in Williams’ birthplace Columbus, Mississippi. The show then won great acclaim at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival. David Kaplan – noted Williams scholar, the show’s director, and curator of the Provincetown festival – compiled the songs and monologues from several Tennessee Williams plays, which together tell a compelling new story of their own.