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Ron Kaplan: Lounging Around

Ed Kopp By

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Ron Kaplan is a dulcet-toned singer from Monterey, California, whose second release Lounging Around is a mellow collection of 11 standards done up in a straight-ahead jazz style with guitar, bass, drums, one or two horns (depending on the cut), and B3 organ (on three tracks). It's the kind of dreamy, soothing album that establishes the right mood for an at-home dinner date.

A restrained tenor vocalist, Kaplan is more lounge crooner than jazz stylist — the album title seems to admit as much. Still, he adopts a warm, relaxed approach somewhat similar to Kevin Mahogany's. Though he never scats on Lounging , Kaplan sings with crystal-clear enunciation and a kind of laid-back poise. He surrounds himself with capable jazz sidemen, most notably the guitarist and co-arranger Larry Scala and tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin Jr. Flugelhorn player Dmitri Matheny also lends his considerable talent to two tracks.

Best cuts include "Blues in the Night," which is given a lazy but pleasing B3-based treatment, and "How Insensitive," which features a breathy performance by Kaplan and a nice solo by Matheny. The swing beat on Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things" provides a sturdy framework for Kaplan's genial vocalizing and McCaslin's cool sax. Other notable tracks include a gentle samba take on "Here's That Rainy Day," a bluesy version of "Moanin'," and a whispery interpretation of "In the Wee Small Hours."

Lounging Around is not what you'd call an adventurous jazz-vocal album. Mid-way through I found myself wishing Kaplan would pick up the tempo and inject a bit of dynamism into the proceedings. He's a nice singer, but the mellow mood is somewhat unrelenting. A finger-snapping swing number or two might have livened things up.

Still, this is a mellifluous collection of timeless songs from a pleasant vocalist and some competent mainstream players. Fans of Tony Bennett's mellower stuff might dig it.

Track Listing: 1. Here's That Rainy Day, 2. Blues In The Night, 3. Cry Me A River, 4. I Surrender Dear, 5. How Insensitive, 6. Just One Of Those Things, 7. Caravan, 8. No One Ever Tells You, 9. Moanin', 10. In The Wee Small Hours, 11. What A Wonderful World

Personnel: Ron Kaplan - vocals, Larry Scala - guitar, Guiseppe Merolla - drums, Perry Thoorsell - bass, Donny McCaslin, Jr. - tenor sax, Steve Czarnecki - Hammond B3 organ, Dmitri Matheny - flugelhorn

Title: Lounging Around | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Kapland Records

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