How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Another day dawns and another new male vocalist interpreting the Great American Songbook appears... but here's one who does it right. John Vance, with acting credentials from television, commercials and film, wanted to pursue his muse in becoming a jazz singer in 2001 and has co-produced this collection of twelve tracks. He is a resident in the L.A. area and also appears in local clubs there.
This album is a winner on several levels. Mr.Vance has a pleasant voice, not a significant one, and I would compare it somewhat to a Chet Baker presentation, on at least a portion of these songs. Baker was lambasted for not being a "good singer," which only acted in stimulating both the public and his own incentive to do more. Let's compare John Vance to the most popular male jazz vocalists to come along in the past year.
Peter Cincotti has the public convinced that he's the next Harry Connick Jr. I'm convinced that he's got a great public relations machine behind him and that he's the next supermodel for The Gap or Old Navy. He's a pretty good pianist but sings without any soul. Michael Buble, a young Canadian vocalist, with a good stage presence, has a pleasant delivery on pop songs with a trace of Mel Torme. He is not a jazz vocalist. Although I've never seen or heard John Vance other than this album, I'd put him ahead of either of these folks. He has a jazz sensibility that sets him apart from the others.
The choice of material here is just right. Whether it's timing or good planning, several of these songs are ready for rediscovery, having been performed ad nauseum in the past. Good examples are the opening Oscar Hammerstein piece "I'll Take Romance," Kenny Rankin's "Haven't We Met," and the Warren-Gordon "There Will Never Be Another You"all staples of a typical 1960s bistro set list. Others like the Ned Washington-Hoagy Carmichael "The Nearness of You" and Mancini's film music "Two For The Road" never got enough attention along the way. Sure, there are some songs here that we could do without, like the title tune and even the Jobim classic "Wave," that have grown tired.
Vance and his trio, Jeff Colella, Randy Landas and Rod Harbour succeed in conveying a sensitive and swinging piano trio sound that is perfect accompaniment to the singer. Mr. Vance shows a "cabaret" affinity in selecting the right songs for the right occasion. We are indeed advised that this album, released late last year, won a "Best Cabaret CD of 2003" by the Beverly Hills Outlook.
Track Listing: I'll Take Romance, Haven't We Met, Isn't It Romantic, One Note Samba, The Nearness of You, Wave, When Sunny Gets Blue, The Best is Yet to Come, Easy Living, There Will Never Be Another You, It's All Right With Me, Two for the Road.
Personnel: John Vance,vocals; Jeff Colella,piano; Randy Landas, bass; Rod Harbour,drums.