The spirit of Chet Baker is alive and well in the performance of Chicagoland trumpeter and vocalist Jeff Hedberg. On his CD, Come And Meet Me In A Dream, Hedberg demonstrates a similar essence in his light tenor voice and rather spare approach in trumpet improvisation that are very reminiscent of the almost fragile effluence of the late great Chet Baker. Hedberg and his band, Sketches in Blue, wind their way through 11 tunes listed on the CD cover and one segment of scatting at the end that is either a coda to the tune “Goodbye” or is just something leftover from the recording session that didn’t merit a title. Most of the CD’s repertoire is drawn from The Great American Songbook, although also included are the Miles Davis tune “All Blues,” and Billy Strayhorn’s “Blood Count,” and “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.” All the tunes are performed with a standard straight-ahead approach and there are neither musical surprises nor innovationsmerely adequate renditions of well-worn chestnuts that are part of the standard repertoire of jazz musicians today.
What prevents this CD from being no more than a good personal musical snapshot is the rather amateurish sound of the recording and the obvious lack of musical maturity evidenced in Hedberg’s phrasing and vocal intonation. The mix between Hedberg’s voice and the piano played by John Jeffery is totally out of balance. It is difficult for the listener to discern whether one is listening to a singer being accompanied by a rhythm section or whether one is being treated to a lesson on piano comping. There are times when Hedberg’s voice is nearly drowned out by the rhythm section that is supposedly supporting him.
While Hedberg’s spirit and determination certainly deserve positive recognition, this is a performer who is still somewhat removed from achieving the polish necessary to be recognized as a great performer. Although part of jazz vocal performance certainly includes pitch bending and/or delaying resolution of dissonance, on the performance of Strayhorn’s “Blood Count” and the standard “Autumn Leaves” in particular, Hedberg, instead of sounding hip, just sounds off key. There are also numerous times when Hedberg’s delivery of a vocal line falls short of completing the musical phrase. He should have either taken the tunes at a slightly faster tempo, or increased his capacity for breath support.
While it is understandable that this recording is likely Jeff Hedberg’s first attempt in a studio, it is hoped that he will eventually aspire to, and reach greater heights of accomplishment in his singing, playing and quality of recordings. Come And Meet Me In A Dream will only be a necessary purchase to an assiduously serious collector’s jazz CD library. And, necessary only, if Hedberg should some day become a known quantity in the jazz pantheon.
Track Listing: Old Devil Moon, Blood Count, The Way You Look Tonight, For Heaven's Sake, You Don't Know What Love Is, One For My Baby, Almost Like Being In Love, Autumn Leaves, A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing, All Blues, Goodbye
Personnel: Jeff Hedberg--vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn; John Jeffery--piano; Lucas Kammerer--bass; Bryan Sansom--congas
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.