Surely saxophonist/composer Bob Brough must be one of the best jazzmen in Toronto. His second album, Like A Spring Day offers the opportunity to showcase the talents of singer Carol McCartney. Brough collaborated with lyricist Sonja Tran on all but two of the eleven compositions.
Last year at this time, I reviewed Bob Brough's debut recording, A Decade of Favorites and although he had appeared on over twenty recordings, this was his first album. The songs written for this new album are largely up-tempo tunes with optimistic titles like "I Know Love Must Be Near," "Paradise Is Good Enough For Me," and the title tune. Sonja Tran's lyrics are sunny and uplifting as exemplified by the "A View Painted Citron and Blue." The goods are delivered by Carol McCartney who sings in a manner reminiscent of Jackie Cain (Jackie & Roy). Her delivery is enthusiastic and she seems comfortable with the jazz vocal genre scatting with ease. The best example of this is on "Today" where she has an extended scat opportunity and also trades four with the band.
The best tune on the album is the durable standard "Indian Summer" in which the melody and lyrics mesh perfectly and that is not a critique of the Brough/Tran compositions. The one misstep is the title tune, "Like A Spring Day," which is a difficult song to set to words. It has a more fragmented melody line than the other tracks and McCartney's vocals seem rushed and tentative. I would imagine that if a more adventurous jazz singer wrote lyrics to a composition of say, Wayne Shorter, it would sound like this.
Bob Brough impressed us last year on his debut and, likewise, as an accompaniest he proves equally adept. We get to hear him solo on every track and also provide gorgeous obbligatos behind McCartney in a manner that you'd associate with Stan Getz or Scott Hamilton. When we get the first ballad, "Daisy," Brough elevates the song per his solo. On the version of the Simon & Garfunkel-associated "Scarborough Fair," taken at a faster tempo, McCartney delivers the melody line and then hands off to Brough who soulfully makes this into a legitimate jazz version. The trio of Stan Fomin, piano; Artie Roth, bass and Kevin Brow,drums are all regular members of the Brough group and provide fine support with Fomin and Roth getting in some brief solo space here.
Track Listing: Like A Spring Day, I Know Love Must Be Near, A View Painted Citron and Blue, Daisy, Indian Summer, Paradise is Good Enough For Me, Only Summer Knows, There's A Place In My Heart, Today, Scarborough Fair, When The Atmosphere's Right.
Personnel: Bob Brough, saxophones; Carol McCartney, vocal; Stan Fomin, piano; Artie Roth, bass; Kevin Brown, drums.