Some voices have "been around."
Every now and then you hear one. It's got that worn around the edges sound. A little sad. A little weary. A little wistful. A little mellow. A little old.
A little like jazz.
Frankie Laine has been around as well. Kickin' around jazz clubs for 17 years before finally making it big. Sleeping on benches in Central Park. Working the dance marathon circuit back in the days of the Great Depression.
Like I said, he's been around. Almost 90 years of bein' around. And you can hear it in his voice.
Old Man Jazz lives up to its title. It's got that kind of rainy afternoon feeling. Sad, weary, wistful, mellow ... old.
The 15 songs are by Jack Segal: "Old Man Jazz," "Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart," "When Joanna Loved Me," "I Don't Remember," "When Sunny Gets Blue," "Keep Goin' Back to Joe's," "Here's to the Losers," "Heavy Breathing," "Dandelion Wine," and others. You probably know at least a couple of them.
Segal is credited with all the "arrangement concepts," and he and Laine (who's also written his share of jazz standards) worked long and hard to get the songs in what both felt to be their perfect form.
Sound like a labor of love? Nearly 10 years in the making, that phrase is nearly an understatement.
Everything about this album comes magically together to capture the essence of that "old man" known as "jazz." The music swirls languidly about like wisps of cigarette smoke, and ghosts of unrealized dreams. Piano, bass (acoustic and electric), guitar, trumpet, trombone, sax and drums all right on target.
Best of all is the voice of Frankie Laine. He's in his element, and it shows.
His vocals are subtly nuanced evocations of the individual moods expressed by each of the tracks. He's not just singing, but telling stories, creating characters, becoming them ...
Becoming the spirit of that other old man. Fusing himself within the music as only Frankie Laine can.
Frankie Laine is Old Man Jazz.
[This cd is only available through Frankie Laine's website at www.frankielaine.com]
Personnel: Producers: Benny Hollman, Jimmy Marino & Mary-Jo Coombs; Engineer: C. Garfinkle (at Studio 56, Hollywood), Larry Czoka; Musicians: Acoustic piano, Freddie Ravel; Acoustic bass, Bobby Hurst; Electric bass, Jimmy Earl; Drums, Steve Smith; Trumpet, Rick Baptist; Trombone, Alan Kaplan; Saxaphone & EWI, Steve Tavaglione; Guitar, Frank Gambale.