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Andrew Distel: It Only Takes Time

Dan Bilawsky By

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When is the right time to release an album? That's a tough question, and a great one to open up for debate. But when you strip away all potential concerns both large and small, the answer stares you in the face: now is the right time. If the music is there, why wait? That's the honest truth, and that's the realization that finally came to vocalist-trumpeter Andrew Distel with regard to It Only Takes Time.

Eleven years after delivering his debut—Stepping Out Of A Dream (Self Produced, 2007)—this Chicago-based double-threat returns with this charming follow-up. It most certainly could've arrived earlier, as Distel notes in his concise liner statement, but it was well worth waiting for. With an organic sense of flow in his vocals, low key additions with his horn, smart arrangements that are neither too generic nor overly complex, and a solid band behind him, Distel distills the essence of each of these songs while walking the sophisticated-approachable line to perfection.

The album opens with a reharmonized "Speak Low" that rests in the clouds and opens up a patch of sky for guitarist Dave Onderdonk to color. It's confidential and charismatic to the core. Then there's a strings-supported "Alfie" that's even dreamier than the opener, a flowing and entrancing look at David Linx and Diederik Wissels' "One Morningstar Away" spotlighting Peter Martin's piano work, a twilit take on Ivan Lins' "Amor" that's decorated with Jim Gailloretto's flute trim and the string section, and a samba-esque "Wait For Me" that soars while marking Distel as a skilled composer with even greater potential. Then a swinging romp through the Gershwin brothers' "Who Cares" serves as the album's true centerpiece while giving Distel a chance to highlight yet another of his talents—scat singing.

By the time the second half of the program gets underway, it's perfectly clear that this man has some serious range, a solid sense of self, and a beautifully old soul. "Too Soon To Tell" gorgeously glides on by at a most unhurried pace, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" lives anew with its tweaked harmony and understated gait, "Your Last Song" and "Into Each Life"—the latter featuring Howard Levy on harmonica—each give pause to admire bassist Carlos Enriquez's handiwork before opening into some dazzling swing, and "You Are There" closes things out with a touching portrait of memory's optimism living out loud in the face of a different reality.

It might've been nice to hear more of Distel's trumpet here—it takes a distant second to his vocals—but that proves to be a minor complaint. Ultimately, his horn isn't missed much and his vocals carry these songs without issue. We may never know why Distel had reservations about releasing this, but let's hope that he doesn't wait too long for his next one. He has much to say that's worth hearing.

Track Listing: Speak Low; Alfie; One Morningstar Away; Amor; Wait For Me; Who Cares; Too Soon To Tell; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes; Your Last Song; Into Each Life; You Are There.

Personnel: Andrew Distel: vocals, trumpet; Peter Martin: piano; Carlos Enriquez: bass; George Fludas: drums; Jim Gailloretto: woodwinds; Howard Levy: harmonica; Dave Onderdonk: guitar; Geraldo De Oliveira: percussion; Brian Schwab: trumpet; Raphael Crawford: trombone; Mark Agnor: violin; Inger Carle: violin; Kathryn Hughes: violin; Carol Kalvonjian: violin; Andrea Tolzmann: violin; Jeff Yang: violin; Thomas Yang: violin; Charles Bontrager: viola; Benton Wedge: viola; Jill Kaeding: cello.

Title: It Only Takes Time | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Jerujazz Records

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