Andy James’ New LP Is A Surprisingly Welcome Addition To 2022’s Field Of New Jazz Albums

Courtesy: Le Coq Records

Veteran jazz singer Andy James is scheduled to release her latest album, Rhythm in New York Friday through Le Coq Records. The 15-song record will come less than six months after the release of her then latest album, An Evening With John Patitucci and Andy James, and a little more than a year after the release of its predecessor, Tu Amor (which was released in January 2021). It is a presentation that audiences will find worth hearing at least once. The record’s blend of originals and covers makes that clear. Among the most notable of its covers, is the cover of ‘I’m Gonna Live Till I Die,’ which opens the record. It will be discussed shortly. ‘El Ritmo, which comes just ahead of the album’s midpoint, is a prime example of how much the album’s originals have to offer. It will be examined a little later. The album’s closer, ‘Just In Time,’ is yet another example of how much the album’s original content has to offer and will also be examined later. Each song noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Rhythm in New York a record that James’ fans and casual jazz fans alike will appreciate.

Rhythm in New York, the third new record in a little more than a year from Andy James, is a presentation that her established audiences and casual jazz fans alike will find worth hearing at least once. Each of the 15 songs that make up the record’s body does well in its own right to make that clear, beginning with the album’s opener, a cover of ‘I’m Gonna Live Till I Die.’ Originally composed by the trio of Al Hoffman, Walter Kent, and Mann Curtis in 1950, the song was first recorded the same year by Frankie Laine. It wasn’t until Frank Sinatra recorded the song in 1954 that it really took off. It has been covered by countless artists across the musical universe since there. In the case of this rendition, the song features guest appearances by Marcus Strickland and Nate Smith. The performance by James and her fellow musicians here sticks well to the original big band vibe of the original composition. Drummer Nate Smith’s ability to keep time so steadily on the hi-hat as he works his way through his polyrhythmic fills is impressive to say the least. His ability to divide the up-tempo eighth notes on the hi-hat as he works his way across the kit not only shows his creativity, but his expert abilities. James’ own vocal delivery and her fellow musicians’ big band style performance makes the song in whole a great way to start the album. It is just one of the songs that stands out in this presentation, too. ‘El Ritmo, which comes just ahead of the album’s midpoint, is a prime example of how the album’s originals make the record enjoyable, too.

‘El Ritmo’ is of note because while it does bring out some of James’ all too familiar Afro-Latin jazz leanings through the percussion and even the distinct, simple piano line, there is something about the combination of the combination that makes this work less in your face in its Afro-Latin leanings than much of her work. James’ vocal delivery is partially to thank for that. The gentle, melodic approach that she takes to the song makes that clear. The same can be said of the performance of saxophone player Chris Potter. What sounds like a soprano sax or maybe a tenor sax being played in a very high register, it comes across as a clear modern jazz composition in its own right. The contrast of Potter’s intensely energetic solos opposite James’ vocals here make for a nice counterpoint to the more familiar Afro-Latin influence of the instrumentation. The collective makes the composition in whole truly unique and a nice change of pace from what James is known for crafting.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘El Ritmo’ (roughly translated, it fittingly means ‘Rhythm’) comes across as a song about the all too familiar topic of a broken relationship. Lyrics are not provided in the record’s booklet, but the lyrics are more than understandable here. What makes this interesting is that even with this all too familiar topic being seemingly presented here, it doesn’t match with the energy of the song’s arrangement. The arrangement is such an upbeat composition, yet this seeming theme is the polar opposite. It almost paints a picture of someone who is perhaps at that point in the breakup of just being frustrated, trying to make sense of things, which happens more than once. Anyone who has been through a breakup will attest to that. This is all just this critic’s interpretation, but it certainly makes the song all the more intriguing, and not in a bad way, either. It is just one more example of what makes Rhythm in New York worth hearing. ‘Just In Time,’ which closes the album’ is yet another way in which this is proven.

‘Just In Time’ is another original featured as part of the album’s body. The song stands out because once again, James and company take audiences in a different direction here. In the case of this song, it comes across as a sort of chamber jazz piece, what with Patitucci on bass, Jon Cowherd on the keys, Marcus Gilmore on drums, and Potter on saxophone. There is a certain intimacy about the group’s performance here. Each musicians gets his own moment to shine in this performance. There are no liner notes to explain how the fully instrumental composition came about, but that aside, it is still a welcome, modern jazz tune with the swing of a bigger group, and compliments the album’s opener well in its own way, leaving listeners on a note just as positive as the opener. When this song and the others examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole whole makes even clearer why the album in whole is an improvement on its predecessors.

Andy James’ new album, Rhythm in New York, is a welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums. That is proven from beginning to end. While her familiar Afro-Latin jazz leanings are present once again, James has complimented those sounds with more Western jazz influences for a record whose originals and covers alike will keep audiences engaged and entertained. All three of the songs examined here make that clear. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Rhythm in New York an improvement on the album’s predecessors that James’ established audiences and more casual audiences alike.

Rhythm in New York is scheduled for release Friday through Le Coq Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Andy James’ latest news at:

Websitehttps://andyjames.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/AndyJamesJazz

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/andyjamesjazz

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Audiences Will Enjoy An Occasional “Evening” With John Patitucci And Andy James In Their New Compilation Record

Courtesy: Le Coq Records

Early this month, jazz vocalist Andy James and jazz bassist John Patitucci released a new collection of covers and originals to audiences in the form of An Evening With John Patitucci and Andy James.  The expansive record spans a total of 17 songs.  The compilation is James’ second covers collection released this year, following that of Tu Amor, which was released in January., so it is kind of interesting that she has essentially book-ended the year with a pair of covers sets.  As with Tu Amor, this collection is neither a total success nor a complete failure, but rather a presentation that is worth hearing occasionally.  That is proven in part through the collection’s featured songs.  They will be discussed shortly.  On a related note, the apparent lack of any liner notes/song credits detracts notably from the record’s presentation.  It will be discussed a little later.  The performances of the featured songs work with the songs to help with the record’s appeal in their own right.  Together with the songs, the two elements make for at least some reason for audiences to hear this collection occasionally. 

John Patitucci and Andy James’ recently released covers collection, An Evening With John Patitucci and Andy James is a presentation that is worth hearing at least occasionally.  That is due in part to the record’s featured songs.  The songs in question are not just covers.  A pair of originals from James – ‘To Dream As One’ and ‘Burn For Love’ – is also featured as part of the record’s body.  The covers themselves are of note in that they are not limited to just jazz composition.  Yes, there are a lot of jazz covers here, but james, Patitucci, and their fellow musicians also take on some pop hits, such as The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird,’ Sheriff’s ‘When I’m With You’ and James Taylor’s Fire and Rain.’  Even the jazz covers themselves are of interest because they are a mix of well-known songs and lesser-known works.  Among some of the more well-known compositions featured in this collection are the likes of ‘Moonlight in Vermont, by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf; ‘I Love You and Don’t You Forget It, by Henry Mancini and Al Stillman, and ‘My Heart Belongs To Daddy,’ by Cole Porter.  The slightly lesser-known songs include and are not limited to ‘Angel Eyes,’ by Matt Dennis and Earl Brent; ‘Some Other Time,’ by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and ‘More Than You Know,’ by Vincent Youmans, Billy Rose, and Edward Eliscu.  They are not among the most commonly covered songs in the “American Songbook.”  Simply put, the songs featured in this collection provide appeal to a wide range of audiences.  They also take listeners through a relatively rich history of American music.  To that end, the songs featured in this compilation are reason enough for audiences to hear the record.

While the songs that are featured in John Patitucci and Andy James’ new compilation are impressive in their own right, they also lead to at least once concern.  The concern in question comes in the form of an apparent lack of liner notes and song credits.  Perhaps this critic received a promo copy of the collection that just so happened to lack said information.  However, if in fact the record does in fact come without that information, then it does a disservice to quite a number of individuals, from the songs’ original composers to the audiences themselves.  It means those composers in question are not getting credit where due, and what’s more it leaves audiences otherwise having to guess which of the record’s two originals are the noted originals.  On yet another level, it means that audiences will potentially have to spend lots of time researching the songs to learn of their composers’ identities.  Now on the good side, that could serve as the starting point in a bigger history lesson for audiences who are less familiar with said composers and their respective bodies of work.  At the same time, the very process can and likely will prove rather tedious for audiences, regardless of that familiarity.  Keeping that in mind along with the lack of deserved credit, that lack of liner notes/credit information proves notably concerning for the record’s presentation.  Again, one has to hope that this issue is only presented with the record’s promotional copies and not the consumer copies.  If it is indeed an issue with the consumer copies, then again, it maintains that concern.  Thankfully it is not enough to make the collection a failure, but it certainly would have enhanced the listening experience in this case.  Moving on from there, the performance of the record’s featured songs pairs with the songs themselves to make for at least some more enjoyment.

 The performances that Patitucci, James, and company present in each song is well deserving of its own applause.  The group’s performance of ‘I Love You And Don’t You Forget It.’ The original song, which was popularized by Perry Como has so much cheese to say the absolute least.  The amount of cheese in the original is enough to make so many of today’s audiences cringe.  It is like a really bad lounge song what with its choral effects and Latin percussion.  By comparison the performance here by James, Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Chris Potter (saxophone) Alex Acuna (percussion), John Beasley (piano), and Dan Higgins (piccolo), gives the song a much needed and welcome update.  The group’s performance takes the original song into account in its presentation, but gives the song more of a swing approach, focusing much more on the Latin percussion and avoiding the trappings of the vocals used in the original.  The addition of the trumpets to the mix alongside the drums even gives the song something of a big band vibe.  It really is a nice update to an original that while fun, is still somewhat campy in its sound and approach.  To that end, this performance is just one example of the importance of the record’s featured performances.  The performance of ‘Some Other Time’ is another key example of that importance.

‘The original take of ‘Some Other Time’ runs almost four and a half minutes and is relatively simple with its vocals and subtle string arrangement.  That simple, subtle approach makes the song so rich and immersive.  Even with what feels like a 4/4 time signature here, it still presents such a distinct waltz feeling, which adds even more to the enjoyment.  It is that enjoyable.  The rendition presented here, which features guest appearances by saxophonist Rick Margitza and Charles McNeal, give the song an almost entirely new identity.  Gone are the strings in the original composition.  In their place is that subtle mix of woodwinds alongside the equally gentle time keeping from Colaiuta and James’ own vocal delivery.  Their work and that of others involved makes this song so rich in its own simplicity.  It makes the song more of a piece that one might expect to hear from an upscale jazz night club in New York or Los Angeles (or some other major metro city anywhere in America) rather than on the stage.  That is how distinctly different the two renditions are from one another.  Each is enjoyable in its own right.  That is not to be misunderstood.  It is just that the group’s take here is so notable even in its own presentation here.  It is just one more example of what makes the songs’ performances so important to this record’s presentation.  The group’s performance of ‘Blackbird’ is yet another key example of the importance of the featured performances.

‘Blackbird’ has been covered countless times by just as many acts and artists ever since the Beatles first crafted the song decades ago.  There have been some renditions that are good and others not so good.  The take featured here is among the better renditions.  Where the original song featured just vocals and guitar, the performance featured here steps things up, but only slightly so.  The use of the strings in the group’s take pairs with James’ vocals, Patitucci’s equally subtle bass line and Acuna’s gentle work on the cymbals to make the performance in whole a borderline easy listening jazz work but still appealing in its own right.  It comes across like something that one might expect to hear in the soundtrack to some movie or TV show from the 70s, but in the best way possible.  It does true honor to the original work while giving the song a whole new, renewed life in this case.  It is yet another example of the importance of the performances featured in this record.  When it is considered along with the other performances examined here and those in the rest of the record’s works, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the collection’s featured performances.  When they are considered along with the songs themselves, the two make for reason enough for audiences to hear the set at least occasionally.

John Patitucci and Andy James’ new covers collection, An Evening With John Patitucci and Andy James, is a presentation that deserves at least some attention from jazz and pop music fans alike.  Its appeal is due in part to its featured songs, which are covers are jazz and pop songs along with two originals from James.  That intentional push to approach such a wide range of songs from such a wide range of times and figures is reason enough for audiences to hear the record.  While the songs that make up the record’s body are clearly an overall positive, the seeming lack of credit for the songs detracts from the record’s presentation.  The radio promo copies of the record lack any of that information, thus causing certain parties to have to do a lot of tedious research into the songs.  One can only hope that the consumer copies do not also suffer from that shortcoming.  If they do, then that definitely detracts from the presentation to a certain point.  It is not enough to make the record a failure, but it is still a shortcoming that is unavoidable in its impact.  The performances of each of the record’s featured songs rounds out the most important of its items.  The performances are notable in their own right from one to the next.  That is because in some cases, they pay full homage to their source material, while in others, they give the songs entirely new identities even as they pay homage to their source material.  Regardless, the performances give audiences plenty to enjoy in their own right.  When that enjoyment is considered along with the importance of the record’s featured songs and even the issue of the seeming lack of information on the songs, the whole makes An Evening With John Patitucci and Andy James a work that audiences will find themselves enjoying at least occasionally.

An Evening With John Patitucci and Andy James is available now through Le Coq Records.  More information on this and other titles from Le Coq Records is available at:

Website: https://www.lecoqrecords.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeCoqRecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Andy James’ New Covers Compilation Will Get At Least Some Love

Courtesy: Le Coq Records

Jazz singer Andy James has made a career of covering music from well-known artists who have come before her.   Her debut 2018 record No Regrets and its 2019 follow-up Blue are collections composed primarily of covers of others’ works.  Now in 2021, James has continued that trend with yet another collection of covers in her latest album Tu Amor — roughly translated, that title means Your Love.  The 11-song compilation does not necessarily break any new ground for James, though is still somewhat entertaining.  That is due in part to the songs that make up the body of this compilation.  They will be discussed shortly.  Staying on the topic of the featured songs, they lead to one detractor that listeners cannot ignore, the lack of information as to the songs’ information.  Ironically, that negative actually leads to its own positive.  That will all be discussed a little later.  Everything noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Tu Amor.  All things considered, the compilation proves itself a presentation that at least some listeners will love.

Andy James’ new compilation record Tu Amor is an intriguing record that will appeal to her most devoted audiences.  That is proven in part through the songs that made up the record’s body.  The songs in question are largely well-known standards from some equally well-known figures.  James takes listeners as far back as 1930 with a take on George and Ira Gershwin’s timeless tune ‘But Not For Me’ and as recent as 1970 with a take on Henry Mancini’s ‘Loss of Love.’  Along the way, there are also covers of songs from the likes of Frank Sinatra (‘Night & Day’), Carlos Santa (‘Evil Ways’) and even Tony Hatch (‘Call Me’).  The latter is slightly less well-known than the others noted here, but the song itself is still well-known.  Simply put, James pulls from a relatively wide range of influences here.  She pulls songs from some of the most gamed American composers and performers for this compilation and from some equally popular Latin/Hispanic names (E.g. Alberto Dominguez and his hit song ‘Perfidia.’  That James would pull from that range of composers and performers gives listeners reason itself to hear this record at least once.  That the songs come from a relatively wide range of eras means the songs have different feelings in each work.  Her Latin-tinged take on the famous songs (which is nothing new for her, considering she has taken the same approach on the aforementioned records) gives the songs their own unique take while staying at least somewhat true to their source material.  Keeping all of this in mind the songs that feature in James’ new record are themselves a positive that her most devoted fans will appreciate.  Staying on the topic of the songs, they lead to the compilation’s one and only negative, its lack of information about the songs’ backgrounds.

As noted already, James takes listeners on a musical trip back through time in this compilation.  The artists and composers whose music she covers is relatively diverse, as is the style of songs.  While this in itself does enough to make for at least some appeal, audiences will note that James does not make mention of the original composers and artists associated with each song.  Whether this omission was the result of James herself or someone else, it means on one level that those responsible for the songs are not getting the credit they deserve.  Yet at the same time, the musicians who performed the songs with James in each song get their due credit.  To that end, one is left scratching one’s head why even that simple starting point is ignored here.  This is important to note because those who might not be so familiar with the noted songs and their history might be misled to believe that this is in fact a collection of originals rather than a grouping of covers.  That again is a disservice to the composers and artists who originally crafted the featured songs.  It is a negative that one cannot ignore and detracts considerably from the record.  Luckily it does not detract to the point that it makes the compilation a failure.  That is because it leads to an unexpected positive.  That positive is the fact that it leads the noted uninformed audiences to make their own journey in music history education.

The lack of a record of artists and composers in James’ new compilation is negative, yes, but at the same time it is positive.  That is because, as noted, it leads audiences who might be less familiar with the histories of each song on their own journey of discovery and education.  So actually in a way, there is a latent function to that lack of information here.  In researching the songs and learning the identities of their composers and performers, audiences will perhaps gain a new appreciation for those figures and their works.  On an even deeper level, discovering the identities of the noted figures and even the stylistic approaches to the source material of each song could also serve as a starting point for what could become an even bigger, deeper voyage into the great American genre that is jazz.  Keeping that in mind, the one negative from which this record suffers is in some odd way, its own positive.  When this is considered along with the wide range of songs covered here, the two elements together make the compilation a presentation that will find some of its own love.

Tu Amor is an intriguing new offering from jazz singer Andy James.  Its intrigue is raised in part through its featured songs.  The songs are compositions that pull from the “great American songbook” and from even rock and Latin worlds.  They pay tribute to some well-known and lesser-known works while giving those songs welcome updates.  The songs can and likely will lead to discoveries and appreciation of even more jazz in the process.  That is because audiences are left to research the songs themselves due to the lack of information on the original artists and composers in the compilation’s liner information.  That lack of information is the compilation’s only negative, because it does not give the noted figures their due credit.  Again ironically, it leads to the noted positive, bringing everything full circle.  Keeping everything noted here in mind, the compilation in whole will not ultimately prove to be a timeless compilation (especially considering that James has made a career of covering others’ works), but it will still find its own love.  Tu Amor is available now.  More information on the compilation is available along with all of Andy James’ latest news at:

Website: https://andyjames.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndyJamesJazz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesjazz

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Le Coq Records Launches, Announces First Releases

Courtesy: Le Coq Records

Fledgling record label Le Coq Records announced its initial slate of new releases for 2021.

Starting the label was a personal decision by its founder Piero Pata and his partner, according to information about the label’s launch. The information states Pata wanted an outlet for her to return to jazz singing after spending much of her career as a Flamenco dancer.

Pata said in his own statement that the decision to launch the label also led to the decision to help other musical artists.

“As we embarked on this process, we met so many wonderful players,” said Pata. “We soon realized that Le Coq could be an ideal avenue to get their music out to the world.”

Keyboardist Bill Cunliffe, one of many artists already signed to Le Coq Records, spoke warmly of Pata when asked about joining the upstart label.

“Piero is great to work with because he’s all about the music,” said Cunliffe. “He shares that quality with all the great jazz producers. He’s also an artist himself, so he knows good from bad and he gives me the freedom to do what I need to do things right. No one can ask for a better producer than that.”

Le Coq Records Engineer Josh Connolly (Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar), echoed Cunliffe’s comments.

“Piero has a vision for quality,” said Connolly. “That’s true in everything that he does. He gives the artists complete creative freedom when it comes to the music, but he brings great ideas to the table. He likes to create situations that take people a little out of their comfort zones, but that can lead to something new. He provides an environment that is very nurturing and fruitful, which honestly doesn’t happen too often.”

Along with Cunliffe, Le Coq Records already boasts a roster that includes but is not limited to acts, such as keyboardist John Beasley, bassist John Pattituci, and famed drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith and his fellow drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Also on the label’s roster are vocalist Andy James, percussionist Alex Acuna, saxophonist Ralph Moore, and trumpeter Terell Stafford.

Many of the noted artists will feature on Le Coq Records’ forthcoming compilation record Le Coq Records presents The Jazz All Stars Vol. 1. The compilation is scheduled for release Jan. 8. James’ own record Tu Amor will follow on Jan. 22.

Saxophonist Rick Rick Margitza’s new record Sacred Hearts is set for release Feb. 5. A new, as yet untitled collaboration between Cunliffe, Pattituci, and Colaiuta is scheduled for release Feb. 19.

More information on Le Coq Records is available along with all of the label’s latest news at:

Website: http://lecoqrecords.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/leCoqRecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.