Bay-area vocalist Nicolas Bearde belongs to an exclusive club: male jazz singers. I suspect, being scientifically minded, that submissions from male jazz singers make up approximately 10% of the music I receive for review. While in may be impolitic to discuss, it remains a fact. Not only are there few male jazz singers, there a fewer good male jazz singers...and that number continues to dwindle. Gratefully, Bearde has emerged follow the release of four previous recordings on his own Right Groove Records, as a unique voice bearing unique influences. Within Bearde's "buttery baritone" are equal parts Lou Rawls and Johnny Hartman with a trace of Nat King Cole. Bearde's deft management of these influences result in his seamless tone and delivery coupled with an acute harmonic sense.
Invitation is produced by the familiar name of Nat Adderley, Jr. who doubles as pianist on the lion's share of pieces. Bearde's support here, by three separate bands, all employ a jazz piano rhythm section supplemented with a woodwind. This lends a welcome consistency to a disc that could have otherwise suffered from a sonic disjointedness. Bearde is a exceptional balladeer as evidenced on "Come Back to Me," a decidedly non-Bossa "Dindi," and a ravishing "Lush Life." Alto saxophonist Vincent Herring joins Bearde on three cuts, most notable, a bright "Nature Boy," that summons Nat King Cole's restless spirit. Bearde offers an interesting alternative to singers like Kurt Elling and Gregory Porter in that he is more of a traditionalist who has the chops to do more demanding things but wisely chooses to redouble his creative investment in singing his songs better than more technically provocative.
Track Listing: Come Back To Me; Dindi; My One And Only Love; Nature Boy; Invitation; Lush Life; I Want To Talk About You; Maiden Voyage; Save Your Love For Me.
Personnel: Nicolas Bearde: vocals; Nat Adderley Jr.: piano (1-6, 9); Vincent Herring: alto saxophone (1, 4, 5); Kenny Davis: bass(2-4, 9); Rocky Bryant: drums; (2-4, 9); Belden Bullock: bass (1, 5); Vincent Ector: drums (1, 5); John R. Burr: piano (7); Anton Schwartz: tenor saxophone (7); John Witala: bass (7); Akira Tana: drums (7); Peter Horvath: piano (8); Gary Brown: bass (8); Leon Joyce Jr.: drums (8); Peter Michael Excovedo: percussion (8).
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