How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
JaRon Eames is gaining a degree of recognition lately among the late-night TV crowd on the island known as Manhattan. That's because his jazz interview show, The JaRon Eames Show, is televised on community Channel 34. Featuring interviews with legends like Oscar Peterson, Nancy Wilson, Jimmy Scott and Randy Weston, the real star of the show is Eames himself. With unflagging curiosity, he probes his guests for nuggets of information, and surprisingly, they provide such nuggets! The most interesting feature of the show, as one studies the faces of his famous guests, is their ease in talking to him.
Since his profile is rising, it may be useful to review Eames last CD from 1996, Sounds Good To Me! The revelation of the CD is the fact that the style of Eames seems to arise from the influences of the vocalists he invites onto his show. Indeed, by referring to the well-known styles of Jimmy Scott, Nancy Wilson or Dakota Staton, Eames has developed his own niche as a get-out-of-your-seat-and-dance practitioner of a style that blends R&B with jazz. That's why Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" fits in with the repertoire of the remaining tunes like "Save Your Love For Me" or "Them There Eyes."
Infusing a bluesy feel into all of the tunes, no matter how he approaches them, Eames can go from the blues shouter on "Stormy Monday" to the rapid-fire articulation and scat of "Them There Eyes." Even in the midst of the machine-gunning of words, Eames twists the phrasing to swoop or dip or prod so that the performance becomes an energetic elucidation of the theme instead of a technical exercise.
Eames combines his good nature with musical story-telling on Louis Jordan's "Pettin' And Pokin'," wherein he rediscovers the timeless ability of Jordan's jump to entertain listeners with wordplay and infectious arrangements. "Shake Rattle & Roll" bypasses the rock-n-roll evolution of the tune to remind the listener of the tune's roots in the blues, akin to the realization of the true meaning of the words to "Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog," as sung by Big Mama Thornton. Similarly, "Route 66" follows seamlessly from the slow Memphis blues feel of "Stormy Monday" rather than taking the finger-snapping route that the song has assumed over the years.
"Doggin' Around," which has become Eames' de facto theme song, encapsulates the strengths of his music: blues from an R&B perspective that merges with jazz, the barroom type of singing that draws in the listeners and excites the crowds, the use of his voice to emphasize the dramatic essence of a tune (in this case, the crying elongation of the significant word following "Stop!"), the compelling narrative, and a universal theme (such as cheating).
As jokingly serious musicians like Louis Jordan, irresistible jazz/R&B singers like Jimmy Scott, the compelling blues shouters like Big Joe Turner or master jazz vocalists like Joe Williams have passed on, we are fortunate that committed entertainers like JaRon Eames are carrying on the tradition.
Track Listing: Doggin' Around, Save Your Love For Me, Shake Rattle & Roll, The Song Is You, I Want A Little Girl, My One And Only Love, Pettin' And Pokin', Stormy Monday/Route 66, Guilty, Them There Eyes, A Change Is Gonna Come