Michael Bolton, with his overwrought remakes of soul and R&B hits, has been the laughing stock of critics for years, though his CD sales have always given him the last laugh. But his surprising change in direction to a straight-ahead jazz session of music from the vast repertoire of Duke Ellington shows him in a completely new light.
Accompanied by such esteemed jazz musicians like pianist Bob James, bassist Lincoln Goines, drummer Stix Hooper and saxophonist Nelson Rangell, Bolton's vocal renditions are sincere. His warm, sensitive interpretations of ballads such as "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good), "Come Sunday and "Lush Life, are remarkable.
Bolton even penned beautiful lyrics to Ellington's understated "The Single Petal of a Rose. He has a lot of fun with the sassy "Fat and Forty and Ellington's neglected R&B-flavored work "One More Time For the People. But it was his adept scatting to "Take the A Train that won over this longtime critic. James' mix of swing and stride piano is potent, while Rangell's brilliant soprano sax is reminiscent of early Johnny Hodges. Stanley Crouch contributed the insightful liner notes. If you don't dig this CD, you're likely a jazz fascist.
Track Listing: 1. Fat and Forty
2. Come Sunday
3. Take the A Train
4. Sophisticated Lady
Personnel: Michael Bolton/vocals
Bob James/piano, producer
Lincoln Goines/electric bass
Nelson Rangell/soprano sax, alto sax
Stanley Crouch/liner notes