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June Bisantz: It's Always You: June Bisantz Sings Chet Baker Vol. 2

Mark Sullivan By

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Vocalist June Bisantz pays tribute to the singing of legendary trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker on this collection of standards associated with him. Along with collaborators pianist Alex Nakhimovsky and guitarist Norman Johnson (plus a number of other musicians), the group achieves its goal by emulation rather than imitation. Bisantz captures Baker's soft, intimate vocal sound, the key to making the project work. It's a vocal style completely out of step with current "diva" practice: seemingly almost casual, with no overt technical or emotional display.

The arrangements vary from track to track: "I Get Along Without You Very Well" and "I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance" feature Bisantz with Nakhimovsky, bassist Matt Dwonszyk, and drummer Ben Belillo. "It's Always You" adds guitarist Johnson and trumpeter Gabor Viragh (who probably deserves the Bravest Player award for playing trumpet on a project honoring such a famous trumpeter).

Nakhimovsky contributes string arrangements to "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" and "So che ti perderò"—no doubt a nod to the "Chet with strings" recordings. Using a string quartet rather than a string orchestra keeps the sound intimate: in fact, the entire session has a chamber jazz atmosphere. Other groupings are even more intimate, including two duets with guitar, and two trios with voice, piano and guitar. Bisantz has the last word, singing "Spring Is Here" completely unaccompanied.

The CD package includes two great period touches: a cover photo of Bisantz photoshopped into a recording studio photo of a young Chet Baker, and a CD made to look like an EP record, complete with grooved black vinyl. Bisantz is also a visual artist, and is responsible for the concept, design, and cover art. Nice job on the whole project.

Track Listing: I Get Along Without You Very Well; It's Always You; Forgetful; Everything Depends On You; My Ideal; Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye; So che ti perdero; You're Mine You; I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance; Born to Be Blue; The Night We Called It a Day; Spring Is Here.

Personnel: June Bisantz: voice, concept, design & cover art; Alex Nakhimovsky: piano, keyboard, string arrangements; Norman Johnson: guitar, recording & mastering; Matt Dwonszyk: bass; Ben Belillo, drums; Gabor Viragh: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jaroslaw Lis: violin, viola; Katalin Viragh: viola; Eric Dahlin: cello; Kan Yanabe: cojon, shaker.

Title: It's Always You: June Bisantz Sings Chet Baker Vol. 2 | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced

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