Wednesday, January 27, 2010

RISKY BUSINESS

The first time I listened to "For the Love of You", your new album, I didn't care for it., and I contemplated telling my reader's to stay away from it. Sunday, I decided to listen to it again thinking I may have rushed to judgment. I played it most of the day, and again Monday evening. Joe, I'm on the fence. You were brilliant throughout, particularly on "Bright Side Up". I thought you played two vibraphones simultaneously on "Cinema Paradise". You assembled a tight-knit band pianist Geoffrey Keezer, bassist George Mraz and drummer Clarence Penn. The album could've been magnificent with just the four of you. You took a big risk including Kenny Washington. It backfired. Proven bandleaders, which you are, like to take chances. That's admirable, but this time around, you should've been conservative. Gambling on a vocalist didn't work out. In the past, some critics compared Washington to Nat King Cole and Donny Hathaway. I couldn't detect their influence when Washington sang. He's an okay singer.However, comparing him to Cole and Hathaway is way off base. On the love songs "For the Love of You" and "The Shadow of Your Smile", for example, Washington was unconvincing. He didn't sound as if he felt the lyrics. Joe, midway through the recording, I wondered if you knew for sure the kind of album you wanted to make. I wondered if you plan to make a jazz vocal album, an easy-listening album, or a mixture of both. Anyway Washington wasn't a good fit. His style is more appropriate for a church choir. Last year, you test-drove the group at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in New York, and the concert was a big hit. Maybe live is the best situation to experience the group.
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