There is a heap of soul, blues, rock, funk and heart on Professor Tim Aucoin
's album, Mystified.
On the other hand, the jazz content is in rather short supply. The Jazz Scientists are good at what they do, but what they do is more akin to a nightclub act than a jazz performance, at times reminiscent of Sam Butera
and the Witnesses but without the luminous personas of Louis Prima
and Keely Smith
to raise them above the norm. Aucoin doubles on bass and sings well enough but there was only one Louis Prima, a brilliant entertainer who was at his zenith trading barbs and quips with his stone-faced sidekick, Smith.
The session comprises eight vocals, all by Aucoinwith harmony on a couple by Karla Harris
and two instrumentals, "One, Two, Three" and "Loose Change," wherein saxophonist Sam Skelton
oversees the melodic essentials. Aucoin's voice is amiable and unassuming, along the lines of Bob Dorough
, Mose Allison
or Giacomo Gates
. His lyrics traverse a similar path but without the trenchant wit or sarcasm of a Dorough, Allison or Gates. So far, Aucoin has borne comparisons to Prima, Dorough, Allison and Gates, all of which are admittedly unfair to Aucoin, as he is not trying to emulate any of them.
Aucoin is trying to entertain in his own way, using Mystified
as his stage of choice. When appraised on that basis, the results are better than those assigned for comparison's sake. However, it must be noted that the album's jazz ingredients, such as they are, remain below the borderline of acceptable. Professor Aucoin's vocals, even though grounded in blues and funk, lean more toward pop than jazz, and the backup group has a lot to do with bolstering that impression, hammering out a heavy two-beat backdrop that would be right at home on contemporary pop radio. To give them their due, Skelton, drummer John David
, guitarist Trey Wright
and keyboardist Randy Hoexter
do lend solid support, rudimentary as it may be. In the end, they and Aucoin are handcuffed by a garden-variety enterprise that might have benefited from the addition of sight to its sound, as in a nightclub or concert hall.
Mystified; I’ll Play My Song for You; Don’t Worry Me; One, Two, Three; Happy Man;
Georgia Smile; Nursery School Blues; Loose Change; We’re All Insane; Do It All Again.