"BORN TO SWING"
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Singer Nancy Kelly is one of only a handful of real jazz singers who truly embody the sometimes forgotten art of true jazz singing.
She opens with a neat up tempo treatment of "I've Got The World on a String" on which she exhibits her jazz rooted phrasing, wide range and innate sense of swing.
Kelly evokes Anita O'Day with her version of "Let Me Off Uptown" substituting tenor saxophonist Houston Person for O'Day's swing partner, trumpeter Roy Eldridge. She sneaks in a little growl, a little scat and some dialog with Person making this a memorable effort.
Don't let me mislead you. Kelly is a terrific ballad singer as well. "Like Someone in Love" is delivered as if she was in a musical, playing a part. The drama is understated as she puts across her message of her love with an honest conviction. That same emotional honesty is easily felt with her "More Than You Know." Pianist Dino Losito contributes a thoughtful and pretty solo.
"Didn't We" is one those heart wrenching ballads where love has come then departed but by only the slimmest of margins. Person is exquisite with his accompaniment, filling where needed but tastefully, never overshadowing Kelly. Expect and hope for more from Nancy Kelly!
THE GENERATIONS BAND
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What a gathering of talent this Generations band presents.
This band is part of San Francisco State University's jazz music program and serves as mentors to students in the program. Alto saxophonist Andrew Speight is the leader and brings together tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Jimmy Cobb and pianist Ronnie Matthews who passed away shortly after recording this.
All these men are deeply rooted in the jazz tradition and here together demonstrate what swinging is all about. They open with a rollicking romp on Thelnious Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning."
"So What," at 9:27 gives Alexander, Speight, Matthews and Drummond space to stretch out on the Miles Davis classic. Jobim's "A Grande Amour" provides a nice change of pace with its bossa beat. Speight's alto soars with the first solo. Belgrave picks up the line on his solo and sets the stage for Matthews. The pianist's right hand is ebullient with swing.
Other tunes include: "Freddie the Freeloader," "Just One of Those Things,' "W.K.," and 'Song for Leslie."
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Combine excellent horn soloists like leader-trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan with the sparkling rhythm section of pianist David Hazeltine, drummer Kenny Washington and bassist Peter Washington and you have a recording to be kept and treasured.
One of the standards, "Haunted Heart," is a nice medium tempo ballad with some interesting duo horn work leading to Smulyan's first solo. The other standards are "I Had the Craziest Dream" and "You and The Night and The Music."
One tune written for the session," D Train Boogaloo" is kind of funky in a Horace Silver sort of way. Magnarelli is precise and swinging. Smulyan rocks on his solo leading to pianist Hazeltine. Hazeltine is one those talents who is beginning to receive the notice he is long overdue.
Not a weak spot among the eight tracks here.
All Reviews by Dick Bogle