For comparison's sake, think of Sinatra with Billy May or Nelson Riddle. Saxophonist/vocalist/guitarist Jay Patten has put together an impressive ensemble of Nashville-area musicians and engaged the services of a top-flight arranger in longtime friend Jeff Steinberg to brighten All in Blue Time, Patten's fifth album under his own name and first with a big band. A further asset is the presence on four tracks of the renowned clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, who continues to play marvelously at age eighty.
The downside, of course, is that Patten's no Sinatra. A more apt correlation here would be with John Pizzarelli or any number of cabaret-style singers (fill in the blank). Still, he's not bad, enunciating clearly, singing on key and swinging nicely when the occasion demands. The problem here is that I'd rather hear a band – almost any band – than a vocalist, no matter how splendid his or her resumé. Sinatra was an exception, but there haven't been many others (no, Tony Bennett isn't on the short list). Of the sixteen selections on All in Blue Time, fourteen are vocals, far above my accepted level of tolerance, which usually dictates no more than two or three on any big-band album.
DeFranco solos – too briefly, one might observe – on one of the instrumentals, "Melancholy Serenade" (which some may recognize as comedian Jackie Gleason's theme), as well as on "It's Funny to Everyone But Me," "Those Were the Days" and the title tune. Patten's alto sax is heard on several numbers, mostly playing the melody, and there are concise comments along the way by Steinberg, organist Tom Reynolds and saxophonist Denis Solee.
Patten wrote seven of the songs and co-authored four others, and they're not bad either, albeit a notch or two below "Our Day Will Come," "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" or the Rodgers and Hart classic, "I Wish I Were in Love Again." Patten and the band are in a playful mood and have a lot of fun with his tongue-in-cheek closer, "Forget About It."
The orchestra's name alludes to the fact that Patten was trying to "capture the romance and mystery so closely identified with the 'film noir' period." The listener will have to ascertain the success of that plan for himself (or herself). What can be said is that the band is quite good and that Steinberg's charts are excellent, lending the album much of its liveliness and allure. Patten couldn't have asked for a better setting in which to perform. A charismatic session for those who don't mind seeing the singer take the lead while the band plays a supporting role.
Track Listing: Gang of Angels; Our Day Will Come; Saxophone; Melancholy Serenade; It?s Funny to Everyone But
Me; Until the Real Thing Comes Along; Blue; I Could Have Danced All Night; Flight from South
Jersey; Dance in Your Dreams; Far Away Places; Somewhere in the Night (Theme from Naked
City ); Those Were the Days; All in Blue Time; I Wish I Were in Love Again; Forget About It
Personnel: Jay Patten, alto, tenor sax, guitar, vocals; Cole Burgess, Denis Solee, Ricardo Barzini, J.M.
Pellecchia, reeds; Mike Haynes, George Tidwell, ?Bix? Romano, trumpet; Chris McDonald, Barry
Green, Dennis Good, trombone; Jeff Steinberg, piano, arranger; Tom Reynolds, piano, organ;
Giavonni Mele, guitar; Roger Spencer, Chris Enghauser (8, 10), bass; Jim White, drums. String
section (5-7, 10, 12, 14, 15) -- David Davidson, David Angell, violin; James Grosjean, viola; John
Catchings, Carole Rabinowitz, cello.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.