Eric Felten: Seize The Night (2010)
Wycliffe Gordon and Vincent Gardner are two of the best trombone players in the world, and both men also sing, on occasion, with wonderfully soulful voices. Eric Felten, on the other hand, is a crooner who also plays a mean trombone, and does both equally well on Seize The Night. Felten established himself as a fine trombonist early on in his career when he won the International Trombone Association's Frank Rosolino Award for best young trombone. While he continued along his own creative path, making recordings that featured him alongside Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker and many other stars, he also spent time developing his vocal style. Whether he is viewed as a singer who plays trombone or vice versa is really a matter of semantics, since he is well skilled in both areas and demonstrates it time and again throughout this collection of self-composed material and standards.
Felten's general sound and style are middle-of-the-road in most respects. He eschews vocal acrobatics in favor of a down-to-earth delivery, and his trombone sound is neither overly bright or extremely warm. He's joined by some of the best in the business, including drummer Jimmy Cobb and tenor saxophonist Don Braden, and everybody comes prepared. The majority of these songs feature Felten on vocals and trombone but a few instrumental numbers, like Felten's excellent Cuban-influenced "Damas De Blanco" and "Three-Martini Lunch," help to mix things up.
Felten seems to find comfortable fits with standards, like his pleasing performances on "Blue Skies" and "If I Had You," but pianist Kenny Barron's confident and classy playing threatens to steal the show on many of these tunes. Felten and Barron have some fun exchanges with Dennis Irwin at the top of Duke Ellington's "Tulip Or Turnip," and the late bassist gets some extended solo space later in the track. The title song is filled with clicheslike the mention that "fools rush in" or "haste makes waste"but they seem intentional and come off as cute and charming instead of schmaltzy or lame. Felten hits a home run with "Too Smart To Fall," which deals with selling yourself on a love that won't work, and he deserves extra points for lyrics that mention "Walter Mitty-like dreams." Feltena triple threat as a vocalist, trombonist and lyricistknows no bounds in terms of creative energy within these vastly different areas, as demonstrated on Seize The Night.
Track Listing: If I Had You; Dancing In The Dark; Too Smart To Fall; Damas De Blanco; Tulip Or Turnip; Seize The Night; Blue Skies; Which Are You?; Three-Martini Lunch; I've Got News For You; I Don't Believe We've Met.
Personnel: Eric Felten: vocals and trombone; Kenny Barron: piano; Dennis Irwin: bass; Jimmy Cobb: drums; Don Braden: tenor saxophone.
Record Label: Self Produced