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.  

Jazz Lovers Will Enjoy Le Coq Records’ Latest Collaboration Compilation

Courtesy: Le Coq Records

Late last year, three of the most respected names in jazz joined to take on a handful of jazz standards for a new collection of songs.  The group’s –John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Bill Cunliffe – efforts resulted in Le Coq Records’ recently released record, Trio.  Released Feb. 19, the nine-song record is an enjoyable, but imperfect presentation.  The most important of its positives is its featured songs, which will be discussed shortly.  While the record’s featured arrangements do much to make the recording so enjoyable, the lack of information on those songs in the packaging detracts considerably from the record’s presentation.  While it clearly detracts from the recording’s presentation to a point, it is not enough to make the recording a failure.  The trio’s takes on the song put the finishing touch to the collection.  When this is considered along with the recording’s featured songs, the two elements together make the album a wonderful whole that again is enjoyable even with its one notable fault.

John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Bill Cunliffe’s new jazz standards collection Trio is an enjoyable offering from the group that any jazz lover will enjoy.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s featured songs.  The nine songs that make up the body of Trio are all standards.  The songs take listeners seemingly all the way back to 1917 through the original Dixieland Jazz Band’s song, ‘One-Step,’ —  having no notes in the packaging to tell for certain, this has to be assumed. It will be discussed a little later — up through the 1940s with David Raskin’s ‘Laura’ and the Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer 1943 song, ‘My Shining Hour’ and then to 1950 with George Shearing’s ‘Conception’ before reaching into 1956 and ‘Just in Time’ by the trio of Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green.  As the record moves into the 1960s, listeners are treated to a performance of Miles Davis’ ‘Seven Steps to Heaven.’  The musical ride through the history of jazz ends in the 1970s and Wayne Shorter’s 1974 song, ‘Ana Maria.’  Simply put, what the album offers in the way of this record’s is a collection of songs that lifts from jazz standards from throughout the 20th century.   What’s more, the featured songs lift from a variety of jazz sub-genres.   ‘Conception’ for instance offers listeners something of a bebop style work. The inclusion of ‘Good Morning Heartache’ gives listeners a touch of blues-based jazz, on a different note.  One could even argue that the group’s take on ‘Just in Time’ is a post bop style composition, along with its source material.   It’s one more way in which the featured songs show their importance.  When the varied styles featured among the songs are considered along with the range of eras from which the songs are rooted, that in itself will make the album appealing for the history that they teach overall.

There is no doubt that the songs featured in Trio play their own important part to the record’s presentation.   Now, for all that the songs do for the record’s appeal, they lead in to a discussion on the record’s lone negative.  That negative is the lack of information in the album’s packaging about the songs’ original composers.  This lack of information can and does lead to confusion over who wrote which songs.  This critic will admit that in researching the songs – due to that lack of information – the connection of ‘The One Step’ to the original Dixieland Jazz Band was assumed.  It is very possible that this song in question was someone else’s especially in comparing the rendition here to that of the original Dixieland Jazz Band.  So overall, that lack of information is detrimental in that as demonstrated, it can and does lead to confusion about the songs’ roots among some audiences.  Directly connected to that is that the original composers are not getting credit where due.  This can become very problematic for Le Coq Records, since technically those credits are supposed to be provided since these are someone else’s works.  Le Coq Records’ Trio is just the latest to present this problem.  Andy James’ recently released album Tu Amor also suffered from this detriment.  That record was also released through Le Coq Records.  So again, this is something that the label’s officials likely do need to address.  If they don’t and this trend continues, it will cause increasing problems for the company and its artists.

While the lack of information on Trio’s songs is unquestionably problematic for the record’s presentation, it does not make the record a failure.  To its benefit, that lack of information could actually lead listeners to begin their own journey of musical discovery and maybe even a lifelong love of jazz, as a result of having to look up the information.  Moving on from that, there is still one more item to note here, and that is the group’s very performance of the songs.  The trio’s performance of ‘Good Morning Heartache’ for instance, gives the Billie Holiday classic a nice touch even without the strings that were so abundant in the original.  Even without Lady Day’s vocals here, listeners can still hear her voice here.  Cunliffe’s performance on the piano and Colaiuta’s performance on the drums are equally subtle here as in the original, making for even more enjoyment.  The  short and simple is that the song stays true to its source material, but still gives listeners something new and unique here that is also enjoyable.

The trio’s take on Thelonius Monk’s 1962 song ‘We See’ is another example of the importance of the performances featured here.  While the sax line from the original is absent here, Patitucci’s performance on stand-up bass takes on that part strongly.  At four minutes, 19 seconds, Patitucci and company’s version is far shorter than that of Monk’s original.  The original comes in at just under 12 minutes.  Even despite that, it has all the energy of the original.  Colaiuta’s drum solo adds even more spice to the group’s take on the song, making it just as enjoyable as its source material if not more so.

Cunliffe and company’s take on Wayne Shorter’s ‘Ana Maria’ is yet another example of the importance of the group’s performance of the record’s featured songs.  Patitucci seems to take on Shorter’s saxophone line on his bass while Cunliffe moves fluidly along with the original piano line.  Colaiuta’s performance on the drums once more adds a welcome subtlety to the song.  The whole of the song proves just as enjoyable as its source material.  When it is considered along with the other performances noted here and the rest of the group’s performances, the whole of those performances works with the importance of the songs themselves to make this record worth hearing at least occasionally. 

Le Coq Records’ recently released album Trio is a positive collaboration from its featured performers.  It is a presentation that any jazz lover will enjoy.  That is due in part to its featured covers.  The songs take listeners on a musical journey through the history of jazz in the 20th century and serves as a starting point for any discussion on the genre and its music.  While the record’s featured songs are themselves are undeniably important to its presentation, the lack of information on the songs anywhere in the record’s packaging detracts considerably from the compilation’s presentation.  It is not enough to make the record a failure.  The group’s performance of the songs puts the final touch to the record.  The group’s performances stay true to their source material, but also give the songs a somewhat new identity, making for even more interest.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Trio.  All things considered, they make Trio a presentation that any jazz fan will find worth hearing at least occasionally.  Trio is available now. 

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

Websitehttps://lecoqrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/leCoqRecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.