Singer Jamie Davis is from the San Francisco area and spent three years, starting in 2000, as the vocalist with the Count Basie Orchestra. This debut recording owes a heavy debt to lessons learned from his experience with the Basie organization. In addition, the supporting big band on this album is comprised of Basie Band veterans and several first-call studio musicians based in Los Angeles. Pianist Shelly Berg conducts the band, with arrangements of various tunes by musicians such as Aaron Lington (North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band), Allyn Ferguson, Tom Hart, Marcus Shelby, Shelly Berg and Bob Ojeda. A forty-minute DVD which is included with the CD covers the making of this album and includes a lot of footage of the musicians.
The musical setting of It's A Good Thing is very much in the Basie tradition, including musicians from that band such as Bob Ojeda and Scotty Barnhart (trumpet); Roger Glen (flute); Tony Suggs (piano); James Leary III (bass) and Butch Miles (drums). Comparisons of Davis' voice and delivery with the legendary Basie singer Joe Williams are almost inevitable. Like Williams, Jamie Davis has a rich baritone wihch is strong enough to match the presence and power of the Basie-ites present, and insofar as a direct match of the two vocalists is concerned, they are both indeed similar.
My biggest objection to the album is that the first half of It's A Good Thing includes several middle-brow tunes that have been presented for so long, and by so many (eg. George Harrison's "Something," "I've Got the World on a String," "Night and Day," Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely"), that both the band and the vocalist are working with overexposed material.
However, at the midway point of the album, there is a brutal transition from "My Funny Valentine" to a version of Thelonious Monk's "Straight No Chaser." Davis is quite comfortable with Jon Hendricks' lyrics and gets in some fine scatting in addition. Likewise, songs associated with Joe Williams ("My Kinda Love," "Every Day I Have the Blues," "All Right," "Okay, You Win") are charged with nostalgia but not imitation. A Ray Noble classic, "The Very Thought Of You," is a perfect choice which Joe Williams might have picked to show his ballad chops.
Isn't She Lovely; Something; I've Got The World On A String; Night And Day; Besame Mucho;
My Funny Valentine; Straight No Chaser; My Kinda Love; Another Star; Every Day I Have The
Blues; The Very Thought Of You; Alright Okay You Win.
Jamie Davis: vocals; Scotty Barnhardt, Chuck Findley, Gregg Adams, Robert Schaer, Michael
Stever: trumpets; David Kiem, Paul Young, James Litz, Phillip Larson: trombones; John Kelson,
Marshall McDonald, Scott Jepperson, William Frenzel, Keith Bishop, Nancy Newman:
saxophones; Roger Glen: vibes, flute; Tony Suggs, Shelly Berg: piano; James Leary III: acoustic
bass; Will Matthews: guitar; Butch Miles, Greg Errico: drums; Keith Perazzo: bongos; Tony
Menjivar: congas; Greg Errico: claves.