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.
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition. He was on the band bus the next day as Dorsey's alto sax and clarinet player, and never looked back. He played with great bandleaders such as Freddie Martin, Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, some before he was out of his teens (they had to lie about his age to get him into nightclubs). Many older musicians have told me he was the greatest alto sax player they ever worked with. He was equally great on clarinet and was clarinetist and harmony singer for cocktail jazz pioneers, the Ernie Felice Quartet.
He eventually left the road and settled down, and that's when I came in. By that time, he was, by day, vocal group session leader/player/arranger for classic jingles and commercial music produced in Dallas. At night, he played in society bands, jazz combos and elegant showrooms. Tuesdays were slow in the showrooms, so band members' families got in free, and my mom took me to see him backing such legends as Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Steve and Eydie, and a very old Ella Fitzgerald. Between that, hearing his record collection, growing up around the legendary musicians and singers who were like aunts and uncles to me, and just listening to him practice around the house, filling the neighborhood with incredible jazz sax riffs, I couldn't help becoming that weird kid who was listening to Peggy Lee, Ella and Manhattan Transfer when my classmates were listening to rock, country and soul.
Even though he died before I ever sang professionally, he remains my inspiration and all my CDs are dedicated to him. I like to think that he'd like my music, since it's built on the foundation he handed down to me.