A recording dedicated to New York theater and a high school music teacher. Ho, boy, one thinks. "What could go wrong?" Actually, not much. Vocalist Gary Brumburgh is, all snobbery aside, a very pleasant surprise. He swings. He is plenty hip. He has an attractive style and a pleasant, companionable voice. So, what good can come of Nazareth (or anywhere else, for that matter), On Circle, plenty. This is a Friday- afternoon kind of recording, good for unwinding and the performing of rituals of thankful survival in post-COVID America. A good band helps, and fans of jazz harmonica can certainly appreciate Ross Garren's touch. What we have is a mix of studio and live fare feet tapping, Broadway and dinner theater meets jazz.
This is an eclectic recording with tunes both familiar ("Surrey With The Fringe On Top") and less so ("Soon It's Gonna Rain," from The Fantasticks, which had been running forever by the time the average Boomer hit puberty, and better known for Jerry Orbach and "Try To Remember"). Show tunes abound presented nicely enough to win over the middlebrow. Likeable, listenable sounds. Scott Whitfield's trombone solo introduction to "Surrey" is especially impressive, with the tune itself taken as a ballad. You never heard it that way? Neither did Chet Baker, who played one of the most memorable choruses in his career on it.
Arranger Jamieson Trotter who is also Brumburgh's pianist, has managed to turn music from "South Pacific" into more-than-passable jazz, which is some kind of accomplishment. But those inclined to approach this recording with an open mind might be surprised at how well much of it works. Like someone in your life has undoubtedly remarked, "Try it. You may like it." If Billy May could cast light classics as swing, Trotter and Brumburgh can turn Stephen Sondheim and Richard Rodgers into jazz. Think Buddy Rich and "West Side Story." Cool is in the ear of the beholder, so to speak.
Everybody’s Gotta Be Somewhere; Celebration; Why Should I Wake Up; The Surrey with
the Fringe on Top; Happy Talk; Soon It’s Gonna Rain; Sorry-Grateful; You’ve Got to Be
Carefully Taught; Love, I Hear; I’m Glad to See You’ve Got What You Want; Far From the
Home I Love; Celebration (extended version).