266

Nelson Rangell: My American Songbook Vol. 1

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Nelson Rangell: My American Songbook Vol. 1 It's about freakin' time.



Nelson Rangell's squandered most of his career on saccharine smooth jazz only rarely offering insight into his ability, with nearly all of that coming during his early recordings of the late '80s and early '90s. He doesn't completely fulfill that promise on My American Songbook Vol. 1, but it's his best album in perhaps a decade and enough to renew hope the multiinstrumentalist may yet establish himself as an artist of substance.



Those familiar only with Rangell through smooth jazz radio likely have missed commendable contemporary interpretations such as his flute on Stanley Turrentine's "A Little Sweetness, alto sax on Burt Bacharach's "A House Is Not A Home, and whistling to minimal instrumentation on Pat Metheny's "If I Could. My American Songbook Vol. 1 seeks to capture that in one album with twelve standard and classic pop songs. While a fair amount of lite ambiance from recent recordings lingers, it is for once eclipsed by the variety and proficiency demonstrated by Rangell and his stronger than usual supporting cast.



Start by skipping ahead a few songs to Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate To The Wind and Rangell's typically rapid flute licks deliver an uplifting sincerity with as much comfort as the pianist was known for. It's followed by a surprisingly straight-ahead treatment of "Billy Boy, where Rangell's alto takes on a neo-bop attitude few but his most patient followers probably believe him capable of. And a rare extended whistling performance on Hampton Hawes' "Sonora doesn't hit the heights of "If I Could, but it's a fine showpiece of his mastery of the art.



The weaker moments are on songs like Leonard Bernstein's "America which essentially repackage his recent smooth jazz triflings in a "standards envelope. But this is mostly forgiven by the time he closes the set with Ray Noble's "Cherokee and the original "Don't Forget Those Forgotten (dedicated, like the album, to promoting peace in "a nation polarized and divided ).



My American Songbook Vol. 1 still isn't likely to win over mainstream purists, but those familiar with him will be pleasantly surprised by its depth and it has real potential to win over new contemporary jazz listeners. If he does, hopefully he won't limit them to going into the past for quality work (Truest Heart and Destiny are good starting points) and will make this the beginning—not the destination—of a new journey of discovery.


Track Listing: 1. America (Leonard Bernstein); 2. Don't You Worry Bout A Thing (Stevie Wonder); 3. Cast Your Fate to the Wind (Vince Guaraldi); 4. Billy Boy (Traditional); 5. That's The Way Of The World (Earth Wind and Fire); 6. Sonora (Hampton Hawes); 7. Freda (Kenny Baker); 8. In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning/ Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight (D. Mann/ James Taylor); 9. Cherokee (Ray Noble); 10. Don't Forget Those Forgotten (Nelson Rangell/Alex Nekrosov)

Personnel: Nelson Rangell (vocals, whistling, flute, piccolo, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, kalimba); Alex Nekrasov (vocals, keyboards, programming); Anne Beer (violin); Darrien Kramer (trombone); Russell Ferrante (piano); Kip Kuepper (keyboards, bass guitar); Jimmy Haslip (bass instrument); Christian Teele (drums, percussion)

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: KOCH Records | Style: Contemporary/Smooth


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Enter the Plus Tet" CD/LP/Track Review Enter the Plus Tet
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "Live At The Open Gate" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Open Gate
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 13, 2016
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Detour" CD/LP/Track Review Detour
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 26, 2016
Read "Conditions" CD/LP/Track Review Conditions
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Jinja" CD/LP/Track Review Jinja
by James Nadal
Published: February 11, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!