Jazz & Cocktails is great. With a vocal mixture combining the sass of Jackie Wilson, the jive of Louis Jordan, and the vulnerability (a chick magnet) of Smokey Robinson, Byron Motley displays creativity, ingenuity, and dexterity on a swinging and ultra-hip set of standards and dreamy ballads. On the latter, Motley is delicate and breathy with the lyrics, as on "June Night" and "I Wish I Knew."
He's also willing to take chances on well known favorites: on "Lush Life," he weaves his weary reflections with a simple accordion and tenor background. A mere piano and harmonica provide the only backdrop on the lonely "These Foolish Things," and "My Foolish Heart" is a sublime conversation with guitar and piano providing support. All throughout, Motley is a master.
On the up-tempo numbers, he's just as strong. Creatively slipping and weaving through a double-time waltz rendition of "Oh, My Lover" and mixing in Kenton's original vocal and band chorus on "And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine," Motley shows excellent taste, pacing, and delivery. On the full band toe tappers like "Big City" and "I Told Ya I Love Ya," he exudes excellent humor. Motley's delivered a recording worthy of admiration in Jazz & Cocktails.
Track Listing: June Night; I Wish I Knew; Oh, My Lover; Lush Life; One Day I'll Fly Away; Waters of March;
These Foolish Things; I Ain't Got the Gal; Serenade in Blue; Big City; Dear Heart; I Told Ya;
My Foolish Heart; Her Tears Flowed; Alfie.
Personnel: Byron Motley: vocals; plus other musicians.