Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet –
Released – November 7, 2014
Dedicated to the late Tim Hauser, who founded the Manhattan Transfer – this east-coast based foursome joins with saxophonist Richie Cole (Lionel Hampton, Doc Severinsen, Eddie Jefferson) for a dozen cool tracks.
Ginny Carr leads the group. Her alto is joined by Andre Enceneat on Bass, soprano Holly Shockley, and tenor Robert McBride.
I’ve added Mr. Cole’s original “Bossa Nova Eyes,” along with “I Love Lucy” (yes, that Lucy), and Ms. Carr’s tribute to Eddie Jefferson, “He Was The Cat” to the playlist at 62ndStreet.com. But buy the album, and spring for the whole dozen. And forget the old standards. These tight harmonies and hand-crafted lyrics will have you believing they’ve been around for forever.
Continuing today with singles (or perhaps a whole album) for which you can use your holiday gift card.
Jamila Ford – The Deep End
(Skinny Chick Records)
Released – September 9, 2014
Jamila Ford has backed names like Bonnie Pointer (Pointer Sisters) and Melody Gardot; she gets her turn front and center on this five track EP.
Not wasted. Confident and powerful, Ms. Ford motors through four off-the-beaten-track jazz standards, and one of her originals, “Silencio.” That’s the one that got my attention, standing up alongside the standards, but…well, original.
As my kid, the musician, says, “Anyone can do a decent cover. Do you have the chops to make something original stand out?”
The whole album is worthy of a five-spot. My favorites include “All Blues,” the opener, along with “Gentle Rain.”
And “Silencio.” All three added to the playlist at 62ndStreet.com.
But buy the whole thing. Highly recommended.
What? Those stocking-stuffer gift cards burning a hole in your pocket already? I’ve got your solution – a listing of more than 20 tracks that will draw them down to nohting in just a few minutes, and I’d wager that they’ll sound great coming out of those new electronic gizmos Santa dropped down the chimney.
So. For the next few days, we’ll clear the decks of the backlog on this end, and help you use up those holiday cards.
Tom Graf – Smokin’
Released – November 7, 2014
Is the “smooth jazz” genre old enough to have roots? The blurb at BandCamp says, “This is the way smooth jazz used to sound…” Arranged by David K. Matthews, currently with Santana; and guitarist Ray Obiedo – it’s indeed several notches above the norm for that genre.
What makes it work for me – are the vocals by Amikaeyla Gaston on two tracks – “Smokin‘,” and “Set Yourself Free.” Ms. Gaston makes this pair pop – as one would expect from the winner of eight Washington Area Music Association Awards.
Easily worth a deuce – and if you leave the world of gift cards, the whole thing is seven bucks at BandCamp.
Money well spent. Recommended; the two tracks from Ms. Gaston highly so.
More suggestions tomorrow.
Bette Midler – It’s The Girls! (Warner)
Released – November 4, 2014
Bette Midler’s first studio album in eight years; a tribute to girl groups, covering material from the 1930s (Boswell Sisters and “It’s The Girl”) to the 90s and TLC’s “Waterfall.”
Some of the takes, presumably orchestrated by Ms. Midler and veterans Marc Shaiman (“Hairspray,” Dionne Warwick, Harry Connick, Jr.) and Scott Riesett (Harry Connick, Jr., Mariah Carey) are fun twists – like a countryfied version of the Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and a raucous “Too Many Fish In The Sea” that evokes not the Marvelettes, but rather The Weather Girls, and “It’s Raining Men.”
Great fun, lush orchestrations. No worries about Ms. Midler losing her edge – the brassy cabaret attitude, and the sly wink are still there.
The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” is the single from this disc – others added at 62nd Street Radio include “Baby It’s You, and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” (Shirelles), “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” (Andrews Sisters), “Mr. Sandman” (Chordettes), “One Fine Day” (Chiffons), and “Teach Me Tonight” (DeCastro Sisters).
The album kicks off a tour that begins in the spring – ticket holders are promised a copy of the album.
Good to hear Ms. Midler in a studio again. Very highly recommended.
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