Vocalist Kevin Bachelder and drummer Jason Lee Bruns have team up to release an enjoyable collection of tunes entitled, Cherry Avenue. Bachelder spent his early years playing the trumpet, but soon realized that singing came naturally to him as well. It wasn't until college that he decided to focus solely on his voice as a primary instrument of expression. Kevin further developed his passion for music by earning a Bachelor's in Music from Berklee and a Master's in Jazz Studies from USC. Bruns holds a bachelor's of Music (Miami University), a Master's in Jazz Studies (University of Southern California), performer's certificates from the Mangueira Samba School (Brazil) and the International Folklore Laboratory (Cuba), as well as a master's in Audio Production (Berklee).
The project owes its success to the ability of Bruns and Bachelder to find common ground to build their musical journey upon. "My Romance" opens the CD and establishes the chemistry between the two from the start, with a duo of drums and vocals conveying the first chorus. Bruns' brush work is excellent and Bachelder's warm voice ornaments the melody in just the right way. The ensemble joins and fills out the mid-up swing number with the horn section playing variations on the melody answered by eight bars of guitarist Angelo Metz soloing, followed by eight bars of a short chorus for the horns. This pattern is again repeated but with pianist Daniel Szabo soloing the second time around. Bruns and Bachelder again return to a duet setting with the band joining midway through the melody. The two have spent time thinking about clear and fresh ways to present this well-known melody and the result is a joy to listen and revel in.
The familiar melody of "Autumn Leaves" has a wonderful piano intro by Szabo that leads into a hip afro-Cuban rhythm that Bachelder easily finds new avenues to traverse. Bachelder takes a fine scatting solo followed by an inspired solo by trumpeter Ron Blake. Bachelder really shows his vocal range on this selection and his upper register work is very strong and adds much to the selection. Other fine Latin inspired selections on the project are: the gentle swaying bossa of "Waters of March," a surprising Brazilian inspired groove on "Dear Prudence," and the bossa nova of "Like Someone in Love."
"Ain't No Sunshine" finds Bruns laying down an excellent funky New Orleans vibe that sets the stage for Bachelder to take this selection to new places and again the interaction between the two is excellent. Bachelder again uses his upper register to good effect and his ornamentations are well placed. Jacques Voyemant turns in an energetic trombone solo. The blues shuffle is the title track "Cherry Avenue," it closes the date with a mid-swing selection that finds Bachelder's voice in the pocket and full of emotion. You can feel his connection to the blues. Brandon Fields spins out a solo full of chromaticism, upper register squeals and vigor.
Cherry Avenue is a perfect example of a collaboration gone right. When each leader plays upon the strengths of each other, for a group effort sound that is enlightened by an updated approach. What is best about this offering is the modernized, airy and very musical ideas that have enhanced what are already well-known pop culture hits.
My Romance; Autumn Leaves; I Fall in Love Too Easily; Waters of March; Dear Prudence; Send in the Clowns; Like Someone in Love; It Didn’t Workout That Way; Ain’t No Sunshine; Cherry Avenue.
Kevin Bachelder: vocals, trumpet (#4); Daniel Szabo: piano; Angelo Metz: guitars; Ron Blake: trumpet, flugelhorn; Kim Richmond: soprano sax, alto sax, clarinet; Jacques Voyemant: trombone; Edwin Livingston: upright acoustic bass.
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