Pianist DellaRatta’s trio makes a dreadful start on this country–hopping two–disc set with the leader’s lightweight original, “Living Inside a Daydream,” on which his ho–hum vocal is accompanied either by a string section or a synthesized imitation of same. The other numbers on Disc 1 are much more appealing, even though DellaRatta sings again on his perky composition, “Little Song.” DellaRatta sings on every selection on Disc 2, opening with another of his compositions, “Say You’ll Be Mine,” which, like “Daydream,” seems to be aimed directly at the “smooth Jazz” market. The others are Luis Bonfa’s “Manha de Carnival” from Black Orpheus, Lennon/McCartney’s “When I’m 64,” Alec Wilder’s ballad “Moon and Sand,” and “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South” — the last two recorded at New York City’s Blue Note Café.Guest trumpeter Szymanski has a crisp solo on “Sleepy Time.” The opinion here is that DellaRatta’s pretty good with his hands — whether playing or songwriting — but far less productive with his voice. He’s a Mose Allison/Jimmy Rowles/Bob Dorough wannabe who has a way to go before reaching that plateau. His sidemen — bassist Hart, drummer Charles (who died in March ’98) — lend strong support, especially on the more substantive tracks, such as “7th Heaven,” “Autumn Leaves” and “Take It or Leave It.” Dizzy Gillespie is quoted in the liner notes as saying, “Wow! Where’d you get that guy?” After hearing DellaRatta, one is moved to respond, “Wow! Where’d you get that quote?” But perhaps there’s more here than meets the eye — or in this case, the ear. After all, few things are more subjective than one’s opinion of a singer. DellaRatta is at times a fine, swinging pianist (as on “Autumn Leaves” or “7th Heaven”). As for the voice, give a listen; you may unearth far more riches than I.
Track listing: Disc 1 — Living Inside a Daydream; 7th Heaven; Autumn Leaves; Little Song; Take It or Leave It (50:00). Disc 2 — Say You’ll Be Mine; Black Orpheus; Moon & Sand; When I’m 64; Rick’s spoken intro to Sleepy Time; When It’s Sleepy Time Down South (41:06).
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.