Ernie Andrews has been around since the late 1940s, an era when big band singers were still in vogue. He pays homage to influences like Billy Eckstine, Al Hibbler and Earl Coleman in this collection of eleven tracks. Despite his credentials and a few big band recordings in the 1950s, Andrews remained an obscure vocalist for the 1960s and '70s, emerging again only in 1980. During that decade, he began singing with the Capp/Pierce Juggernaut, Jay McShann and the Gene Harris Superband. This is his fourth album for HighNote and the first that I've heard.
In the past, I've not been overwhelmed by big band ventures in which Andrews tries to overpower the orchestra, but How About Me offers a new and positive side to the vocalist. Like others, he seems to have wisely measured the effectiveness of singing in a more comfortable range, leaving his voice without any of the raspiness of the past. On How About Me, Ernie Andrews pays tribute to the singers and the songs of the 1940s and '50s, though most listeners will have trouble recognizing more than a handful of these eleven songs. "I've Got To Pass Your House," "The Wildest Girl in Town," "Blues for Sale" and "Boulevard of Memories" are all vintage Billy Eckstine titles, while Earl Coleman is represented by "This is Always."
Andrews also provides a touching reading of "It's Monday Forever," a tune associated with Al Hibbler, and also delivers Percy Mayfield's dark lyrics on "River's Invitation." Other better-known titles include the title song from Irving Berlin and the Harry Warren/Mack Gordon piece "The More I See You." While he delivers most of the songs in a downtempo manner, Andrews shows that he can swing effectively on the opening Leonard Feather piece, "She's Got The Blues for Sale."
The first-class combo further enhances this album, especially Houston Personis there anyone better in the business for providing tenor sax readings behind singers?and Terry Evans, who lays down tasty guitar solos (both jazz and blues).
Personnel: Ernie Andrews: vocals; Houston Person: tenor sax; Phil Wright: piano, arranger; Terry Evans:
guitar; Richard Simon: bass; Frank Wilson: drums.