It shouldn’t be surprising that creative people successful in one discipline might have other, seemingly unrelated talents up their sleeve. Tony Bennett paints, Christopher Walken tap dances and Steve Martin plucks a wicked banjo.
So, visit Bimbo’s 365 Club on Saturday to sample the collaboration of British singer-songwriter Julia Fordham and noted tunesmith Paul Reiser.
Yes. “Aliens”-“Parenthood”-“Mad About You” Paul Reiser, who graduated from Binghamton University with a degree in piano composition. Public with his comedy, acting and writing, Reiser has been private about his music.
“It’s not a well-known fact, nor should it be. Making this recording was not a career move,” he demurs, before deadpanning: “Actually, I tell people this is a Julia Fordham album.”
He jokes too about the decision to go out on a six-city mini-tour to promote the recording, called “Unusual Suspects.”
“It’s like Mickey and Judy, but we haven’t decided who’s who. We might switch off each night. Seriously, if it goes badly, it’s all my fault.”
Several jokes later he finally says, “These songs are particularly far from comedy. I wanted to call the album ‘Why So Sad?’ It became our criteria. Julia would bring lyrics and I would say, ‘Not sad enough.’ It’s not that I’m depressive. I’ve just always loved songs that rip your heart out.”
Once a back-up singer for Mari Wilson and Kim Wilde, the Portsmouth-born Fordham recorded several albums in her native England before relocating her career to California.
She, too, is delighted by the collaboration, noting that working with Reiser brought her a different approach to songwriting. Accustomed to simultaneous creation of lyrics and melody, she recalls, “I’m suddenly in somebody else’s world and he’s leading. Sometimes he would give me these incredibly involved tracks and then I had to do my thing on top of that.”
They’re both particularly proud of the track “UnSung Hero,” which was inspired by a conversation Fordham had with the mother of a soldier serving in Afghanistan.
Before the meeting, she had questioned the military presence there. “It was such a sobering moment to hear from someone who actually had a kid in harm’s way,” she says.
The song has become a bit of an anthem, bolstered by the participation of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Gebo in a moving trumpet solo. “The first time we performed it was for this benefit for the Wounded Warriors Project, an organization supporting men and women who’d had their limbs blown off in combat. To have it embraced like that is rather humbling.”
IF YOU GO
Julia Fordham and Paul Reiser
Where: Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Contact: (877) 435-9849, www.bimbos365club.com