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Actors want to be singers, singers want to be actors, and athletes want to be both. We have seen Wayman Tisdale and Bernie Williams release jazz albums in recent years.
Now, Chase Utley, the Philadelphia Phillies starting second baseman and MVP candidate, has thrown his hat (or CD) into the ring. Utley's debut release titled Chasin' the Hits on the No Errors label straddles the line between contemporary jazz and hard-bop.
As a vocalist, Utley will not make anyone forget Sinatra, but he does not embarrass himself either. The producers of the album were wise enough to pick tunes and arrangements which showcase Utley's strengths.
Chief among them, is Utley's surprising ability to scat, which he displays on "2 Base Hit." Starting off as a ballad, Utley is sublimely backed by Eric Alexander on tenor and John Swana on trumpet. The tune then switches gears and veers to a bossa beat, with Utley's scatting revealing a clear Kurt Elling influence.
Another highlight on Chasin' the Hits is an up-tempo version of Metallica's "Enter Sandman," which features Aaron Goldberg on piano and Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard with a turn on electric bass. The bonus track, "Rollins wuz Wright," pits Utley's scat vs. Jimmy Rollin's rap and ends with the stadium crowd roaring "MVP, MVP, MVP..." It's now the official seventh inning stretch song at Citizen's Bank Park.
Track Listing: 2 Base Hit; Take The A Train; Time After Time; Enter Sandman; Mood Indigo; Moment's Notice; Rollins wuz Wright (bonus track).
Personnel: Chase Utley: vocals; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; John Swana: trumpet; Aaron Goldberg: piano; Ryan Howard: electric bass; Micky Roker: drums; Grachan Moncur III: trombone.