Paul Seaforth: When Did You Leave Heaven? (2004)
Paul Seaforth wears a number of hats on his newest album, When Did You Leave Heaven? vocalist, trumpeter, saxophonist, arranger, lyricist and co-producer with his wife, Linda. While it's hardly a one-man showSeaforth has a splendid backup crewhe's definitely the focal point, singing on every number save Juan Tizol's "Caravan" and soloing, even if briefly (and sometimes with the help of overdubbing) throughout.
Seaforth's purpose is explicitly romantic. As he writes, "I wanted the music to reflect the type of intimacy that we all desirethe thrill of new-found love, the glowing serenity of having found your soulmate, the warmth of intimate conversation, the happiness of being understood by your loved one, and the security of unconditional love." To carry it out he has chosen ten love songs from the Great American Songbook and tender-hearted originals by David Wilcox ("Kindness") and Red Grammer ("Tonight's a Night for Love").
Seaforth is as much stylist as singer, in the manner of a Chet Baker, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Feinstein or John Pizzarelli, with a vocal quality closest to Connick, an openness reminiscent of Baker (who also doubled on trumpet, as I recall), and a guitarist, Peter Sprague, who reinforces one's thoughts of Pizzarelli. Seaforth plays open trumpet or flugel much of the time, muted trumpet on a gently rocking arrangement of "Caravan," and assigns most of the other solos to Sprague, who doesn't let him down. The rhythm is in the capable hands of bassists Kevin Axt or Bob Magnusson, drummers Joe Cataldo, Duncan Moore or Jim Plank (the liners/jacket don't say who's playing when).
This is mood music, but definitely a step or two above smooth jazz, with more variety and know-how than much of what is heard on today's faint-hearted radio outlets, and a number of decent solos by Seaforth and Sprague. Among the high spots: "Young and Foolish" (with an amended lyric by Seaforth), "On Green Dolphin Street," "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" and "Like Someone in Love." Ironically, the album's weakest track, to me, is the title selection, "When Did You Leave Heaven?", a second-rank song that needs more help than Seaforth and Co. are able to provide.
A pleasant, easygoing session for dyed-in-the-wool romantics or those who simply appreciate a well-written song and may be wondering whatever happened to them.
Track Listing: Dedicated to You; On Green Dolphin Street; Kindness; I Didn't Know About You; When Did You Leave Heaven?; You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To; Tonight's a Night for Love; Caravan; My One and Only Love; Young and Foolish; Like Someone in Love; You're Nearer (62:38).
Personnel: Paul Seaforth, vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone; Peter Sprague, guitars; Bob Magnusson, Kevin Axt, bass; Joe Cataldo, Duncan Moore, Jim Plank, drums.