By Bert Woodard
Special to Reviewboard

The music of the late Earl Wentz will live on in a CD collection currently being launched of Wentz performing his favorite Cole Porter selections.

Recorded just prior to his death in 2009 and produced by Sixpence, Inc., the first of the planned 4-CD collection can be ordered through http://www.sixpenceinc.com/EarlWentz-ColePorterLoveSongs.html, http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/earlwentz2, Amazon.com, and through other retail establishments in the United States.

Wentz was a star pianist, composer and musical director in his native Charlotte, N.C., before moving to New York where he flourished. He died November 15, 2009 in Charlotte, at age 71.

“What Is This Thing…?” is the first volume of four anticipated recordings by Wentz of Cole Porter’s music. Recorded in New York in the years immediately preceding Wentz’s untimely passing in late 2009, each collection centers on a particular theme in Cole Porter’s music. Additional CDs in the four-volume work are scheduled to be released by Sixpence, Inc., in the near future. For more information, please visit www.sixpenceinc.com.

‘What Is This Thing…?’ brings together the perfect blendship of Cole Porter’s composition and Earl Wentz’s performance,” said William Watkins, who produced the series for Sixpence, Inc.

“What Is This Thing …?” features 12 of Cole Porter’s most well-known love songs:

  • What Is This Thing Called Love?
  • In the Still of the Night
  • I’ve Got You Under My Skin
  • Easy To Love
  • You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
  • Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye
  • I Love You
  • Begin the Beguine
  • True Love
  • It’s De-Lovely
  • Night and Day
  • You Do Something To Me

All selections on this CD are Wentz’s original arrangements never heard anywhere before, all recorded on a Steinway grand piano in a Manhattan recording studio.

Wentz is most noted for his creation in 2000 of the American Composer Series, an ongoing performance series in the cabaret format.

The American Composer Series paid tribute to the greatest composers of popular American music on the American scene, particularly those composers associated with Tin Pan Alley and the American Songbook. From 2000 to 2009, under the direction of Wentz, the American Composer Series created 15 original revues, many of them returning for multiple runs over the years. Composers saluted in the series include Milton Ager, Harold Arlen, Nacio Herb Brown, Hoagy Carmichael, Sammy Fain, Ray Henderson, Victor Herbert, James V. Monaco, Richard Rodgers, Jule Styne, and Harry Warren. In 2006, the producers of the series broke the format somewhat for two performances to pay tribute to the series’ founder in “An American Composer Series Special Event.”

Also among his noted compositions was the score for the controversial 1997 Off-Broadway musical “The Marital Bliss of Francis and Maxine.”

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