“My Favorite Things” by Ron Kaplan
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High Standards (Kapland Records) by Ron Kaplan
Ron Kaplan, vocals; Smith Dobson, piano; Stan Poplin, bass; Steve
Robertson, drums; Donny McCaslin Jr., Paul Contos, tenor
On his appropriately titled album Kaplan sings 11 standards or jazz
classics with flair and a lot of heart. Backed by a piano trio on
seven selections and an expanded group on the others that includes
either McCaslin or Contos on tenor, Kaplan wends his way through the
popular material by adding a classy touch and a taste of soul.
Kaplan's voice is smooth in the Mel Torme sense of the term, and he
has a similar pinch of verve to add spice to the songs. Although
Kaplan does not deviate substantially from the prescribed melody,
his accompanying musicians do. The result is a very pleasant balance
between melody and improvisation that gives the recording much of
its appeal. For deviation, he sings alternate lyrics to Silvers
"Song for My Father" that appear more appropriate than the more
familiar version. Pianist Dobson takes the lead during the vocal
breaks and stretches the tune's perimeters while Poplin and
Robertson spur him on. When the tenor players enter, the pieces take
on added dash.
Kaplan can be linked to the vocalist of the past who merged the jazz
esthetic with the melodic popular element to produce music that
appealed to both camps. His light-handed approach and easy singing
style are qualities that make him a very likeable commodity. He has
chosen to drive along a well-traveled road, yet he produces music
that has you singing along with his lyrics or grooving with the
instrumental parts. His direction cannot be faulted.
--by Frank Rubolino
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