Todd Gordon: Love's Illusions (2006)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Todd Gordon sings standards with a deep respect for the tradition that they represent. His clear, baritone voice offers one of the finest examples of tonal clarity among contemporary male singers who work in jazz. The arrangements that support him come with in spirit of jazz. His highly accurate musical performance is complemented by the ensemble working alongside him. The mix, however, places the whole product into a muddy turmoil in more than one instance.
With the album's opening number, for example, a walking bass and Gordon's driving drum set accompaniment pave a direct line for the melody. The pianist adds chords that color the song well. A classy piano solo and a thundering "Gene Krupa drum solo add more spirit. However, throughout the interpretation, each of Gordon's supporting voices walk over each other haphazardly with combat boots. The delicate nature of his voice clashes with the thundering mixture of his ensemble. What's more, the tightly muted trumpet thread that gets woven through the piece adds even more cloud to the mixture without providing a worthwhile benefit. Even the final note of the tune comes with an unpleasant ring.
Several other tracks from the album provide a similar picture. When working alone with the piano, Gordon sometimes finds himself wading through murky textures that can only lead to more trouble.
Nevertheless, it's clear that the good points found here outweigh the bad. First, Gordon's vocal delivery is a sheer delight. His deep, resonant voice and comfortable swing should make the session appeal to lovers of jazz, as well as those who prefer the pop mainstream. Second, the support that he receives from saxophonist Alan Barnes gives him an ace in the hole, particularly on "You Make Me Feel So Young. Third, the support that he receives from trumpeter Bruce Adams lifts the heartfelt spirit of his session, especially on "You Got Me Runnin.'
Hopefully, we'll be hearing a lot more from this articulate vocalist/drummer who captures the essence of Love's Illusions with a genuine regard for tradition.
Track Listing: This Could Be the Start of Something; Blue Skies; Medley: (Miss Otis Regrets; The Ladies Who Lunch); Just One of Those Things; Anyone Home?; I Believe in You; But Beautiful; The Lady's in Love With You; You Got Me Runnin'; You Make Me Feel So Young; Both Sides, Now; Hard-Hearted Hannah; My Blue Heaven; Nina; Something Good.
Personnel: Todd Gordon: vocals, drums; David Patrick: piano, arranger; Andrew Cleyndert: bass; Alan Barnes: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Bruce Adams: trumpet.
Record Label: Hemba Records