By Dee Dee McNeil

November 18, 2022

EYAL VILNER BIG BAND – “THE JAM!”  –  Independent Label

Eyal Vilner, alto saxophone/clarinet/flute/conductor/arranger/composer; Imani Rousselle, Brianna Thomas & Brandon Bain, vocals; Caleb Teicher, tap shoes; Jon Thomas & Jordan Piper, piano; Ian Hutchison, bass; Eran Fink, drums; TRUMPETS: John Lake, Brandon Lee, Bryan Davis, Michael Sailors & James Zollar. SAXOPHONES: Bill Todd & Jordan Pettay, alto saxophone; Julieta Eugenio, Michael Hashim & Evan Arntzen; Josh Lee & Eden Bareket, baritone saxophone. TROMBONES: Ron Wilkins, Robert Edwards & Mariel Bildsten.

Born in Tel Aviv, Eyal Vilner moved to New York in 2007 and by the following year he had formed his big band.  His band became a popular accompaniment for New York City’s swing dance clubs.  The band has also appeared as part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s lineup, The Guggenheim Museum, Birdland, Dizzy’s Club, Smalls Jazz Club and Minton’s Playhouse.  In fact, bandleader Eyal Vilner got so inspired watching the swing dancers, he decided to take swing dance lessons himself. This led to a venture with professional dancer Gaby Cook, who encouraged him to provide live band music as inspiration for the dancers.  That working union wound up inspiring Vilner himself.

“I get inspired by a syncopated move.  It can be just as inspiring as hearing a great musician or reading a book.  There’s open conversation between swing music and swing dancing. Both of these are forms rooted in improvisation,” Vilner explained.

The Eyal Vilner Big Band opens with the familiar Duke Ellington Orchestra tune “Just a Lucky So and So” with the contemporary voice of Imani Rousselle singing the lead lyric.  This band swings and I can see why the dancers flock to Eyal Vilner’s Big Band music. The next four tunes are penned by Eyal Vilner.  He is brightly featured on Track #2, “Chabichou,” that happens to be named after Vilner’s favorite cheese and features the composer playing alto saxophone. Pianist John Thomas is spot lit on Track #3, using licks that remind us of Thelonious Monk’s music.  “Another Time” is a song Vilner wrote many years ago when he first relocated to NYC. The polka beat behind the Monk-esck tune is a little surprising to my ear, but I admit it’s unique. “The Jam” takes us back to a swing dance mode giving Eran Fink a time to shine on drums. The idea of writing about the pandemic quarantine becomes a tongue-in-cheek comedic lyric where the quarantine word is pronounced like the word ‘valentine,’ titled, “Will you Be My Quarantine?” This song is sung by Ms. Rousselle.  It’s a creative and laughable lyric, sung to a catchy melody.  She sings the lyrics from a song co-written by Tal Ronen.

“We will spend our lonely days together.  Taking pictures of our food and wine. If you’ll just remove your mask, long enough to ask, baby, will you be my quarantine?”

This joyful Big Band also plays ‘cover’ tunes you will probably recognize like “Hard Hearted Hannah” and the 1939 hit, “Tain’t What You Do” by Sy Oliver & Trummy Young, where the band vocalizes as background voices chanting the title behind Brianna Thomas, who’s the featured lead singer. This is a song I remember Ella Fitzgerald once made popular. All in all, this album is just plain joy!

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Scott Whitfield, trombone/bass trombone/bandleader/arranger/vocals; Jeff Colello, piano; Jennifer Latham, bass; Kendall Kay, drums; Rusty Higgins, alto & soprano saxophone/flute/piccolo; Kersten Edkins, tenor & soprano saxophone/clarinet; Brian Williams, baritone saxophone; Dave Richards, lead trumpet; Kye Palmer & Anne King, trumpet flugelhorn; Tony Bonsera, lead trumpet/flugelhorn; Gary Tole & Ira Nepus, trombones; Rich Bullock, bass trombone. SPECIAL GUESTS: Pete Christlieb & Rickey Woodard, tenor saxophone; Dick Nash, trombone; Brad Dutz, percussion.

This project has pulled several favorite songs from motion picture scores and titled the project, “Postcards from Hollywood.”  You will hear songs that became popular from films like Gone with the Wind (1940), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), and Cleopatra (1963).  Prior to his arrival in Southern California, Scott Whitfield developed a keen interest in film soundtracks.  He even wound up studying the art form at a UCLA Extension course.

“My goal with this recording is to pay homage to a cross-section of the greats, through the medium of my Jazz Orchestra West. Some of these themes will be very familiar to the listener, while others are much more obscure.  In some cases, I stayed pretty close to the original concept of the piece.  In others, the muse led me on a much more circuitous route,” he wrote in his liner notes.

They open with “The Magnificent Seven”, a main theme from the movie of the same title.  Kye Palmer makes a soaring statement on his trumpet solo and Kendall Kay is magnificent on drums.  “Sally’s Tomato” from the “Breakfast at Tiffany” film is a warm, lilting, Latin arrangement where Jennifer Latham offers a memorable bass solo and Scott Whitfield’s trombone shines, center stage.  Whitfield has included special guests in this production and familiar names on the Southern California scene like Rickey Woodard and Pete Christlieb on saxophones, Brad Dutz on percussion and Dick Nash on trombone.  The bandleader has also built a band that celebrates the wealth of Los Angeles talent including respected names like Jeff Colello on piano, and Anne King on trumpet and flugelhorn. Speaking of King, she plays beautifully while soloing during the “Tara’s Theme” arrangement as does Rusty Higgins on soprano saxophone.  Other favorites on this album are arrangements of “A Time for Love” plucked from the “An American Dream” film.  Kirsten Edkins offers a lovely tenor saxophone solo and Kye Palmer plays a mean flugelhorn.  But it’s Whitfield who sparkles and swings in the spotlight with his trombone talent.  Uniting with the strong bass support of Jennifer Latham on her upright instrument, Whitfield puts down his trombone and shows off his vocals, singing “Spellbound” from the movie of the same title.  On “The Pawnbroker” Rickey Woodard plays with his usual soulful dexterity and emotional sincerity during his tenor saxophone solo. This might be my favorite tune on the whole album.

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Jon Cowherd, piano/composer/arranger/Hammond B-3 organ; John Patitucci, Acoustic & Elec. Bass/composer/arranger; Brian Blade, drums/ composer/arranger; Chris Potter, tenor & soprano saxophone; Alex Neciosup Acuña, percussion.

The Jon Cowherd Trio expands to a quintet on the very, first composition that Cowherd has penned, “Grand Mesa.”  Cowherd, Blade and Patitucci add the stellar saxophonist, Chris Potter, to the mix along with exceptional percussionist, Alex Acuña.  Cowherd has written and arranged six out of the eight songs on this album.  I am particularly impressed with “The Colorado Experiment” where John Patitucci shines and sparkles during his bass solo.  Cowherd’s composition skill is quite evident on this tune. I love the way he begins the arrangement with just acoustic piano and his left hand and right-hand shadow boxing around the melody.  During Cowherd’s solo, Brian Blade is powerful and creative on drums, not only holding down the tempo, but coloring the bandleader’s solo with interesting and effective drum licks. Clearly, Jon Cowherd has surrounded himself with creme de la crème musicians.  Track #3 becomes one of my favorites on this album.  Cowherd’s composition, “Honest Man (For Ellis Marsalis)” is a pensive, beautifully constructed arrangement that celebrates the Marsalis music legend in a lovely way.  The title tune, “Pride and Joy,” once again expands the trio to a quintet with the percussion of Alex Acuña pumping excitement into the production.  This is Straight-ahead jazz that gives the great Chris Potter a platform to steal the spotlight during his saxophone solo.  Listen as his notes glitter and glide through the arrangement. Potter is a talent to be reckoned with, spurred ahead by the awesome drums of Brian Blade. This is another one of my favorites on Jon Cowherd’s album.  Cowherd and drummer, Blade, share a close friendship ever since they met at New Orleans Loyola University some twenty-three years ago. It was through Blade that Jon met Patitucci.  At the time, John Patitucci and Brian Blade were performing as part of the Wayne Shorter Quartet.  This album is titled as a reference to Jon Cowherd’s three-year-old daughter who, of course, is his “Pride and Joy.”  The compositions are well written, and the group’s energy is palpable. I also enjoyed the Patitucci composition, “Chickmonk” that gives Jon Cowherd not only an opportunity to play acoustic piano, but also invites him to add his talents on B-3 organ. Patitucci has arranged his original song contribution. Brian Blade is given time to play a highly creative solo on trap drums, singing his own rhythmic melody. They close with an original composition by the drummer called “Quilt City Blues.”   It features Jon Cowherd on solo piano, sounding more like a country/western tune than a blues. 

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Marco Pignataro, soprano, alto & tenor saxophones/composer; John Patitucci, bass/composer; Chico Pinheiro, guitar; Anastassiya Petrova, piano; Nadia Washington, vocals/composer; Terri Lyne Carrington, drums; Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone/bass clarinet/alto flute/mezzo soprano sax/composer.

If you listen closely, you can hear the rich spectrum of rhythms, melodies, and natural sounds in our universe, as Mother Nature plays them each and every day.  There is always music around us.  The whistle in the wind.  The tinkling sound of raindrops on the roof.  The flap of bird wings disturbing space, or the splash of ocean against the shore; perhaps a solo cricket’s song. Marco Pignataro has obviously been inspired by these amazing natural Earth wonders. He has incorporated nature sounds into his “Chant for our Planet” project. Marco hopes this music will jolt us out of complacency and infuse our interest in the beauty of Mother Earth.  After all, this is the planet we call home. The Pignataro project is meant to advocate for reforming climate policies. It’s a mandate to inspire us and a plea for more care given to our world.

“Jazz music has historically been a powerful artistic medium to inspire, educate, empower and advocate for social change in our community,” Marco Pignataro explains his musical journey.

You can get a sense of his theme from the tune titles of Pignataro’s repertoire. The master bassist, John Patitucci has composed the first suite of music that opens this album.  Titled “Terra – Mare- Cielo” (Earth, Sea & Sky). It unfolds in three parts, propelled by the mastery of Terri Lyne Carrington on drums and colorfully intoxicated by the vocals of Nadia Washington. Anastassiya Petrova’s piano opens the familiar Jobim tune, “Aqua de Beber” (Water to Drink), sung in Portuguese by Nadia Washington.  Antonio Carlos Jobim reminds us that, without clean water for humanity to drink, we will not survive.  Chico Pinheiro takes a notable solo on guitar and Marco Pignataro soars on tenor saxophone. On Pignataro’s composition, “Moon Threads” I fall under the spell of his alto saxophone presentation.  This piece is very meditative, with shades of Middle Eastern minor mode influences. The legendary Joe Lovano has contributed a composition titled, “As It Should Be” that ventures into the realms of Avant-garde music. On “Irene’s Path,” Pignataro’s composition was inspired by the destructive Hurricane Irene and its horrific aftermath.  The powerful storm wreaked havoc from West Africa to the Americas, causing significant damage. 

Pignataro has surrounded himself with master musicians who play seamlessly together and with the musical intent and purpose to tackle the conversation about climate change.  Like the beauty and importance of jazz, Marco Pignataro believes the security and protection of our planet should be paramount in our minds. We must make sure our world is safe and secure for future generations and treasure it, the way we treasure jazz music. Marco Pignataro musically provides art, beauty and original music to inspire humanity towards love and respect for our planet.

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MATT ULERY – “BECOME GIANT” – Woolgathering Records

Matt Ulery, double bass/composer; Zach Brock, lead violin; Jon Deitemyer, drums; KAIA String Quartet: Victoria Moreiera & Joy Curtin, violins; Oana Tatu, viola; Hope DeCelle, cello.

If strings are your thing, this current project produced and composed by bassist, Matt Ulery, features Zach Brock on lead violin, a string quartet, his own double bass and Jon Deitemyer on drums. Nearly five years ago, Nathan Cole, First Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, reached out to Ulery.  Mr. Cole was looking to feature a guest composer at the Chamber Music Festival in Lexington, Kentucky.  He wanted a piece written expressly for Cole’s string quartet, with world renowned violinist, Zach Brock acting as the violin soloist. This album is the result of that project.

“The music I write is usually recorded and released pretty quickly from when I start the process of writing it and playing it live.  So, this is the first time I’ve ever had a piece active for such a long time before recording. It’s been growing steadily between sets,” Matt Ulery explained the transitions that his compositions have made in five years.

What began as a commission for a single festival has turned into a beautiful gift that keeps on giving.  It’s a work that has unfolded across the United States, pre-pandemic.  The group, including and using the brilliant Chicago-based KAIA String Quartet, has toured and worked on their arrangements and blended their musical identities in support of the iconic violinist, Zach Brock.  Now, the suite is lovely, polished, whimsical and expertly played, culminating into this recording that was released in August of this year. Titled “Become Giant” here is nearly forty minutes of music, written in six movements, with a closing composition entitled “Shine Faintly with a Wavering Glow” that closes this album. Here is a gorgeous parlor presentation, intimate and classically infused, that highlights the beauty of string chamber music. Cuddle up next to a warm fire or a warm body and enjoy.

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Steve Tintweiss, 5-string double bass/melodica/voice/composer/bandleader; Charles Brackeen, tenor & soprano saxophones; Byard Lancaster, alto & soprano saxophones/flute/piccolo/bass clarinet; Genie Sherman, vocals/spoken word; Lou Grassi, drums/percussion.

One introspective day, Steve Tintweiss pulled a dusty tape from his shelf and listened to his ‘live’ concert recording from way back in 1980.  It was his ‘Spacelight Band’ performing a music series at the Loeb Student Center of New York University. At that time, Steve was already a respected avant-garde bassist who had performed on the final tour of saxophone icon, Albert Ayler.

Tintweiss had also played on the “Patty Waters Sings” 1969 album as part of the Marzette Watts Ensemble, characterized as a bone-chilling underground milestone.  The music on this ‘live’ historic concert production that Steve Tintweiss stumbled upon is also, at times, bone-chilling. The Spacelight Band certainly pushes the boundaries of experimental jazz. This current CD is a double disc release, offering nearly two hours of free-flowing experimentation and improvisation of the Steve Tintweiss compositions.  On the opening cut of Disc #1, Genie Sherman adds wordless vocals to the mix, exploring her high soprano notes, then swooping to her lower register. Lou Grassi opens the composition with his marching drums cementing the tempo into place.  He is known to have one foot planted in Straight-ahead jazz and the other in experimental music.  Byard Lancaster’s flute pierces the auditorium silence.  Charles Brackeen joins in, playing his tenor sax in unison with the flute and then with the voice.  Tintweiss plucks the strings of his 5-string double bass and seems to inspire Genie’s improvised vocal sounds as they become more aggressive.  When they recorded this, it was Saturday, November 8, 1980, and students with IDs gained concert access for $2.50, while the general public paid an additional dollar for admission.  The concert was funded by the “Meet the Composer’ group.  Steve Tintweiss formed this band in 1976 and they stayed together until 2003. The third track on Disc One is titled “Whistle Stop Tour” and has a catchy melody that the vocalist explores with freedom and scats.  She sometimes adds the title as a lyric and then takes liberties to explore the chord changes with her improvisational voice.  Once the music becomes more instrumental and less vocal, we get an opportune chance to enjoy each musician’s talent and technique.  On “Risk-O-Disc” Steve Tintweiss lays down a bass groove that is hypnotic and the flute of Byard Lancaster (who is a multi-reedist) is dominant and beautiful. This quickly becomes one of my favorite tunes.  If you are looking for something free and improvisational, inspired by the compositions of Tintweiss and uniquely presenting itself as a cord-less ensemble, this historic project will satisfy any avant-garde lover.

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Stephen Anderson, piano/composer/band director; Baron Tymas, guitar; Jason Foureman & Christopher Law, bass; Dan Davis & Michael Shekwoaga Ode, drums; Juan Alamo, marimba/percussion; Emma Gonzalez & Ramuné Marcinkeviciute, voice; Alex Upton, alto saxophone; Rahsaan Barber, alto/tenor & baritone saxophone.  SPECIAL GUESTS: Rachel Therrien, trumpet; Roland Barber, trombone.

For a small ensemble, this group has a very big band sound. They are an interactive ensemble, comprised of faculty and students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Their goal is to demonstrate jazz as a living art form and bring awareness publicly to the rich history of jazz. The project opens with “What Now?” a composition by pianist and band director, Stephen Anderson.  Stephen’s piano solo is wonderful.  Enter special guest, Rachel Therrien, a female French-Canadian trumpeter, composer, producer and winner of the 2015 TD Grand Prize Jazz Award at the renowned Montreal International Jazz Festival.  She also, in 2016, won the Stingray Jazz Rising Star Award.  Her tone is as smooth as fresh frozen ice and just as cool. Juan Alamo is stellar on marimba and Rahsaan Barber’s saxophone strength is prominent.  Barber is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies and Saxophone at the University of North Carolina.  He’s played with a plethora of musicians including Christian McBride, Brian Blade, The Temptations, Delfeayo Marsalis, the famed Spanish Harlem Orchestra, the iconic Taj Mahal, pop star Cyndi Lauper, gospel legend, Kirk Franklin and gold record artist Meghan Trainor, to list just a few.  As you can see, his horn is a diversified tool and he competently crosses genres.  On this first cut, you meet the musicians, who step up to interpret Stephen Anderson’s composition, giving it their very best.  The second track is also an Anderson composition, “False Pretense,” where you get to enjoy Anderson’s piano solo, sometimes richly infused with the blues.  We also get to meet drummer, Michael Shekwoaga Ode, on this tune.  He is masterful on his instrument, given free rein to explore excitement and creativity on his drums.  At the fade, he steals the spotlight during a memorable drum solo. As a Nigerian American composer, drummer, bandleader and educator, Mr. Ode was born in Philadelphia but spent developmental years in North Carolina.  Michael received a scholarship to study at Oberlin Conservatory under jazz legend, Billy Hart.  Track #3, “Adversities” features the beautiful vocals of Ramuné Marcinkeviċiuté.  Bass player, Christopher Law takes a solo and soaks up the spotlight, while drummer Dan Davis sounds spectacular on this cut.  “Open Sesame” is composed by saxophone master, Rahsaan Barber and arrives in a splash of a Straight-ahead jazz arrangement.  This time the bassist is Jason Foureman, who steps forward with confidence and creativity on a melodic solo, followed by the composer on his saxophone, exploring all his improvisational possibilities. On Disc #2, the “Latindia” tune composed by Barber turns up the Latin Heat and gives percussionist Juan Alamo an opportunity to shine.  I love the baritone saxophone that Barber uses to color this arrangement. Baron Tymas has written “Looking Up” and uses his piece to showcase his mad guitar skills.  I love the addition of Alamo’s marimba.  On the standard song, “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine” the composition recalls the voices of both Lena Horne and Ethel Waters.  Although Emma Gonzalez has a lovely voice, I don’t believe she sold us the lyrical content.  It’s a woman who loves her man, in spite of his behavior.  It’s a story of painful, unconditional love and Emma sounds pretty, but not believably distraught.  All in all, Disc 1. & Disc 2 of this double disc set of music is entertaining, well-written and arranged, as well as played and interpreted by a group of excellent musicians.

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Tobias Hoffmann, co-producer/composer/conductor; RHYTHM: Vilkka Wahl, guitar; Philipp Nykrin, piano/synthesizer; Ivar Roban Krizic, double & electric bass; Reinhold Schmölzer, drums/electronics; SAXOPHONES/WOODWINDS: Patrick Dunst, alto & soprano saxophones/flute; Andy Schofield, alto saxophone/flute/clarinet; Robert Unterköfler, tenor & soprano saxophone/clarinet; Martin Harms, tenor saxophone/clarinet; Jonas Brinckmann, baritone saxophone/bass clarinet.  TRUMPETS/FLUGELHORNS: Dominic Pessl, Bernhard Nolf, Felix Meyer, Simon Plötzeneder, Jakob Helling. TROMBONES: Kasperi Sarikoski & Daniel Holzleitner, trombone; Robert Bachner, trombone/euphonium; Johannes Oppel, bass trombone/tuba.

The title tune, also the album opener, is dynamic. The orchestra soars.  Tobias Hoffmann, the composer and conductor of this entertaining orchestra says, “This is one of the most challenging compositions I have ever written. … I am very proud that this composition was awarded the 3rd prize at the Bill Conti Big Band Contest of 2021, which was organized by the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers based in Los Angeles.”

The thing that struck this journalist, about his composition, was the many layers of emotion and mood changes Hoffmann’s music projected.  The tenor saxophone solo by Robert Unterköfler is beautifully executed and puts the ‘J’ in jazz.  “Elegy” slows the tempo to a sweet ballad that features the horn section only, no rhythm section.  No problem.  They don’t need one. The closely knit harmonies of the horn section run beautifully through this project, like an uninhibited river.  “Awakening” is a composition that’s dark and brooding.

Tobias Hoffmann recorded this project in Vienna, Austria, the last week of August 2021. The conductor was born in Goppingen, Germany in 1988.  He quickly discovered his passion for music and began to seriously play saxophone during high school.  He studied at the University for Music, Drama and Media in Hannover and graduated from Prins Claus Conservatorium Groningen in the Netherlands with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in 2013. Hoffmann also studied Jazz-Saxophone at the Musik und Kunst Universitat Wien, and also studied Jazz Composition and Arranging, receiving a Master of Arts degree with distinction in 2015.  Tobias Hoffmann’s compositions have won numerous awards.  A sample of that is on Track #5, “Relentless” that won first prize in the “Original Composition, Large Ensemble category at the 2022 45th Annual Downbeat Student Music Awards.”  Patrick Dunst is the main soloist on alto saxophone.  I enjoy a good baritone saxophone solo and Jonas Brinkmann is given the opportunity to strut his stuff on the straight-ahead composition titled, “Trailblazers.” 

You will enjoy the brilliance of an amazing orchestra, along with the unique arrangements of gifted composer, Tobias Hoffmann, who has a warm place in his heart for horns and the beautiful music they make. 

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Skip Wilkins, piano; Dan Wilkins, saxophones; Tony Marino, bass; Bill Goodwin, drums.

Here is a project bursting with bebop.  You hear the joy played by veteran pianist and composer, Skip Wilkins, after a too-long hibernation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Like so many, Skip Wilkins found himself on lockdown at his home in the Delaware Water Gap. Wilkins had just completed a recording that featured his son Dan on saxophone and his regular and longtime friends and musicians, Tony Marino on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums. The project had been scheduled for release in 2020, but the pandemic was raging and there were no tours planned to promote their album.  With unexpected time on their hands, the locked-down musicians practiced, played solo, learned new tunes and waited.  This recent release is titled “In The Stars.” It includes a carefully chosen repertoire that celebrates jazz master Phil Woods, a friend and musician that Skip played with frequently as a member of the Festival Orchestra. The Wilkins Quartet breathes new life into classic songs, some familiar, but many underappreciated gems that they have polished up.  This album sparkles like stars, with well-arranged, great American tunes played by a fan-friendly quartet. 

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PAUL MARINARO – “NOT QUITE YET” – Independent Label

Paul Marinaro, vocals/composer; Mike Allemana, guitar/arranger; Tom Vaitsas, piano/Fender Rhodes/Hammond B3 organ; John Tate, bass; George Fludas, drums; Jim Gailloreto, flute; Rajiv Halim, clarinet; Greg Ward, alto saxophone; Chris Madsen, tenor saxophone; Raphael Crawford, trombone; Marques Carroll, trumpet; KAIA STRING QUARTET: Victoria Moreira & Naomi Culp, violin; Amanda Grimm, viola; Hope DeCelle, cello. Alyssa Allgood & Sarah Marie Young, backup vocals.

Opening with the popular Mel Torme & Robert Wells composition, “Born to be Blue,” Marinaro’s voice is cushioned by this lush big band arrangement. The dramatic production supports Paul Marinaro’s voice as it splashes onto the scene.  With waves of rhythm guitar, provided by Mike Allemana (who is also the all-star arranger of this project), Track #2 sets the tone and creates a Brazilian rhythm tempo.  The Jobim tune, “Someone to Light Up My Life” is effervescent.  Singer, Paul Marinaro has a style all his own.  It’s a good thing not to sound like anyone but yourself.  Marinaro’s voice may be familiar to his Chicago, IL audiences and probably to New Yorkers who have enjoyed his jazzy style at the Birdland Jazz Club in NYC.  However, his vocals are new to me.  I find Paul’s voice fresh and pleasant to the ears.  His choice of repertoire shows off his ability to swing hard and to sell a lyric.  “Make Me Rainbows” is a perfect example of this, with the delightful lyrics written by Marilyn and Alan Bergman to a John Williams melody.  On the David Bowie tune, “5:15 The Angels Have Gone” Paul Marinaro is elbow-deep in the pop genre.  I can tell that Marinaro is influenced by the platinum recording artist, David Bowie.  He has plucked the title of this album, “Not Quite Yet,” from a Bowie song called “No Plan.” Which, by the way, Paul also covers this Bowie tune on his album.  He includes the blues tune, “No One Ever Tells You,” showing another side to his voice. I think Paul knows that If you claim to be a jazz singer, you have to be able to sing the blues.  He accomplishes that musical style with ease.  I appreciate Marinaro’s tender tones, like the ones that caress the lyrics during his presentation of “The Island.”   Sometimes his style reminds me of the tremolo voice of Johnny Mathis, but Marinaro definitely has his own style.  At times, his big, long, legato notes overpower the emotion of his interpretations and become more vocal technique instead of emotional surrender.  A big plus are the arrangements of Mike Allemana that shine and sparkle like Christmas tree ornaments.  These arrangements definitely decorate the singer’s repertoire in a beautiful way.  Paul Marinaro and his ensemble offer fourteen songs, several pulled from the great American songbook.  As a songwriter, the vocalist has collaborated with A. Barosso on a tune called “Searching” that displays great lyrics, a strong melody and is delightfully arranged as a Bossa Nova. Marinaro also introduces us to not so familiar tunes like the great song “On A Wonderful Day Like Today.”  Paul Marinaro puts happiness into the moment and hope into our hearts.

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