Sunday, March 8, 2009



In January, at trumpeter Marcus Belgrave’s album release party at Bert’s Marketplace, pianist Bill Meyer asked me to listen to “Stylin’,” an album you and Meyer released in 2006. The pianist was anxious for me to experience the album, and I promised him I would listen to it when I had some free time, and I would a blog whether I liked or considered it sub-par. I finally spent time with “Stylin’” last week. I enjoyed it. You and Meyer put out a solid album.

You guys had fun playing together. “Stylin” was a well-organized jam session. Egos weren’t welcomed. The band was determined to make a damn good jazz album, and you and Meyer succeeded. Meyer has mastered the science of companying a jazz vocalist. Your voice matched his impeccable manner. I’m familiar with the pianist's stellar track record, but I’m unfamiliar with your resume’. I wondered how you and Meyer met, how long you guys have been partners, and what inspired this session?

The album didn’t have liner notes to answer those questions and other basic background information such as your birthplace, and who influenced you. I searched the internet for your biography, but the search was futile. Neglecting to provide informative liner notes was the only noticeable shortcoming. I like to read liner notes while listening to an album. Doing so is part of the listening experience. Actually, last week was the first time I heard you sing.

On the standards “Fools Rush In,” “Just One of Those Things,” “I’m a Fool to Want You,” and “One for My Baby,” your style, phrasing, and execution was evocative of those dignified vocalists such as Johnny Hartman, Mel Torme’, Joe William and Frank Sinatra. I bet during your formative years you spent a lot of time studying each, but Sinatra was your favorite. I alternated from Stylin’” to a compilation album I own by Sinatra titled “Classic Sinatra His Greatest Performances 1953-1960”. I wanted to make sure my comparison was on the money.

Musically, was Sinatra, in fact, your chief influence? I know most musicians hate comparisons. Like Sinatra, your have voice was clear and robust. If “Stylin’” was your debut album as a co-leader, it should be considered your official coming out party. “Hello Detroit” was a nice way to end “Stylin,’’ and it was admirable you and Meyer kept the sideman duties in house by assembling only Detroit based jazz musicians. “Stylin’” is a worthwhile Detroit vocal jazz album.



I misplaced the “Stylin’” album cover, which I planned to run with this blog. I will find it soon. Until then, I uploaded the cover the Sinatra album I mentioned in the blog. I will remove the cover when I have located the “Stylin’” cover art.
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