Saturday, October 26, 2019

CD Review: Patrick Barnitt, "Sway"


Vocalist, Composer and Actor, Patrick Barnitt has just released his second CD with the terrific 17- piece Paul McDonald Big Band.  Patrick is a regular performer around the Los Angeles area but grew up in my home state of New Jersey.  When I first received this CD, I looked at the Playlist and was not too optimistic about what I would find on this CD.  After all, what male singer would want to take on Sinatra classics like "I've Got You Under My Skin" or "One For My Baby".  However, as I looked further, I saw that the list contained an interesting, wide-ranging group of songs like "The Truth" written by the great Les McCann, Chicago's "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is"  and the old chestnut, "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey".

Patrick Barnitt has a classic tenor voice that is perfectly blended into the exciting sounds and arrangements of the Paul McDonald Big Band.  Singing and swinging with a big band is an opportunity that every singer longs for, but in order for it to work, the singer and the band have to merge and become one, support each other and also give each other space to excel.   This CD accomplished all of these requirements.  Patrick gets a lot of work as an Actor but he deserves more public notice for his vocal accomplishments.  He has a great voice and style which at times brings one back to the 1950 crooning era but he also does some wonderful things with more current music.  I think it would really be good for Patrick to put together a collection of songs from some of the more recent composers on his next CD.

I really liked "Sway" for a lot of reasons.  I loved Patrick's voice and phrasing, the collection of songs he chose and the great sounds and arrangements from the Paul McDonald Big Band.  I would also like to mention the big band arrangements from Paul McDonald that would please any big band music fan!

Playlist:
1. "The More I See You"
2. "Please Be Kind"
3. "Sway"
4. "I've Got You Under My Skin"
5. "ACL Blues"
6. "Cascade"
7. "The Truth"
8. "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is"
9. "Touch Me"
10. "Quando Quando Quando"
11. "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey"
12. "Just In Time"
13. "One For My Baby"

Players:
Vocals-Patrick Barnitt, Laura Pursell
Alto Sax- Rusty Higgins, Mike Nelson
Tenor Sax- Eric Morones, Brian Clancey
Bari Sax- Ken Fisher
Trumpet- Bijon Watson, Walter Simonsen, Jeff Jarvis, Barbara Lorongo
Trombone- Paul Young, Duane Benjamin, Nick DePinna, Rich Bullock
Piano & Arrangements- Paul McDonald
Back-up Singers- Meloney Collins, Kenna Ramsey, Laura Dickinson
Guitar- Ricky Z
Bass- Cooper Appelt
Drums- Jake Reed

There also were some terrific musicians who made outstanding guest contributions to this fine CD:
Stephan Oberhoff: Piano, Hammond B3, Keyboards, Guitar, Percussion, strings               (1,3,4,5,7,9,10,13)
Rusty Higgins: Alto Sax (13)
Kendall Kay: Drums (13)
Celso Alberti: Percussion/Drums (10)
Robert Kyle: Flute/Tenor (1)
Everette Harp: Sax (10)
Meloney Collins, Kenna Ramsey, Laura Dickson: Background Vocals (6)

I had a tough time picking a few songs from the CD for you to review but finally settled on these three because I think it gives the listener the broadest picture of Patrick Barnitt's talents.   The first one is the "The Truth" written by Les McCann and features Vocalist Laura Pursell.  The second YouTube is "Please Be Kind" written by Sammy Cohn and Saul Chaplin and I had to attach the third YouTube one of my favorites from "Chicago", "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is".



                                                       









Sunday, October 20, 2019

CD Review: Rich Willey's Boptism Big Band, "Down & Dirty"


I have a treat for all my Big Band fans.  I have just listened to Rich Willey's "Boptism Big Band's" new release "Down & Dirty" and it's fabulous!  Trumpeter, Bass Trumpeter, Bandleader and Composer Rich Willey has a remarkable resume consisting of performing with many great musicians including Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton, Buddy Morrow and vocalists Mel Torme, Jack Jones, and Shirley Jones.  The 11 tunes written by Rich Willey are as good as band music gets and will surely be played by lots of other bands in the future who are looking for fresh, new and inspiring music.  Rich Willey's composing is clear, versatile and understandable.  In addition, the talented musicians in this band are all world class and make for a listening feast.  And lastly, the arrangements are sparkling good.  These three elements make "Down & Dirty" one of the best big-band CDs released this year in my opinion.

Rich's tunes are perfectly written and arranged for the 18-piece band that Producer Dan Fornero assembled to record this CD.  An impressive group of Arrangers were brought in by Rich to create arrangements to bring Willey's compositions to life.  The group included Michael Abene, Gordon Goodwin, Wally Minko and Chris Walden and they truly are magnificent arrangements.   Award-winning engineer Tommy Vicari did the remarkable recording of this 18-piece band to complete this great CD.

This CD contains 77-minutes of musical delights including Jazz, Funk, Latin, Baroque, Reggae and Rock.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves exciting new Big Band sounds!

Playlist:
1. "Boogie Beast"
2. "Down & Dirty"
3. "Walter The Ferret"
4. "Eyes All For You"
5. "Dancing Hippo"
6. "Ed Zachary Meets Gregory Peccary"
7. "How Bout That?"
8. "Old Folks"
9. "Little Treasures"
10. "Not So Fast"
11. " Funk Heap"
12. "But For The Grace Of God"

Players:
Rich Willey-Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Bass Trumpet, Composer, Band Leader
Saxophones- Dan Higgins, Brian Scanlon, Bob Sheppard, Jeff Driskill, Sal Lozano, Jay Mason
Trumpets- Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Rob Schaer, Mike Rocha, Tony Bonsera
Rhythm Section- Wally Minko-Keyboard, Andrew Synowiec -Guitars, Edwin Livingston-Bass
Peter Erskine-Drums, Joey De Leon-Percussion
Special Guest Thomas Hooten-Piccolo Trumpet (Down & Dirty)

I can't wait for you to hear the two YouTubes I have attached.  The first is "Boogie Beast" and the second is "Walter The Ferret" both written by Rich Willey.






Friday, October 4, 2019

CD Review: Lisa Rich, "Highwire"


Lisa Rich has an interesting story to tell.  In the 1980's she was one of the most promising Jazz singers in the US.  She and her lush voice performed in some of the most prestigious Jazz settings in the US including a series of concerts in China and India. It was not only her voice that brought her into a national focus, her ability to handle sensitive lyrics and melodies were near perfect.  She recorded two CD's before recording "Highwire" in 1987 but never released.  Lisa Rich experienced serious health issues that caused her to stop performing and pause her career.  She then opened up a music studio and worked as a Vocal teacher and gave private lessons and conducted workshops.  It was not until 2018 that Lisa returned to the music she had begun so long ago and remixed the "Highwire" CD and released it in August of 2019.

"Highwire" is really a tribute to the writing genius of Chick Corea.  A chance encounter with Chick Corea moved him to present Lisa with several of his songs.  Lisa interprets five of Corea's songs on this CD and also two songs by Ralph Towner, one by Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman and Loonis McGlohon and the standard, "We'll Be Together Again" by Carl Fischer and Frankie Laine.

The supporting musical cast on "Highwire" is terrific starting with outstanding Piano work from Marc Copland, Bassist Drew Gress and Drummer Michael Smith.  David Kane also provides great piano support on tracks 3 and 6.

This CD remix was recorded 32 years ago but proves again that good music is timeless.  Lisa Rich has a natural ease and smoky lush voice that reminds us what Jazz Vocals are all about.  All the songs included in this CD are difficult but sensitive and Lisa sings everyone flawlessly.

Playlist:
1. "High Wire The Aerialist"
2. "Contessa" 
3. "Celeste/Prelude To A Kiss"
4. "Bud Powell"
5. "Stardancer"
6. "Lonely Woman"
7. "Songbird"
8. "The Jinn"
9. "We'll Be Together Again"
10. "The Silence Of A Candle"

Players:
Lisa Rich-Vocals
Marc Copland-Piano
Drew Gress-Acoustic Bass
Michael Smith-Drums
David Kane-Piano (Track 3 & 6) 




I have selected two YouTubes for you to review that showcase Lisa Rich's wonderful Vocal talents. The first one is "High Wire The Aerialist", music by Chick Corea, Lyric by Tony Cohan.  The second is a terrific version of the standard, "We'll Be Together Again", Music by Carl T Fischer, Lyric by Frankie Laine.


CD Review: The Flying Horse Big Band, "Good News!"

Recently I have discovered several new big band CDs that are outstanding.  It's always a pleasure to find new big band CDs because th...