When a jazz artist announces that he/she is doing a Miles Davis tribute, the question is, "Which Miles? The cool Miles? Modal Miles? Fusion Miles?" On Now Dig This!, singer Dennis Rowland's primary emphasis is on Miles in the late '50s, when the trumpeter was recording a great deal of standards. In fact, Rowland embraces only two Davis originals on this absorbing effort ("All Blues" and "Pfrancing"), and he devotes a lot more time to standards Davis recorded (including "Someday My Prince Will Come," "My Ship" and jazz's national anthem, "'Round Midnight"). Rowland's voice is something to savor. He comes from the Joe Williams school of big-voiced, blues-minded jazz singing, and Rowland has also learned some things from the great R&B and soul music of the '60s and '70s.
Male jazz singers are becoming an endangered species, and Rowland's impressive Concord output has reminded us how badly needed they are.
Reprinted with the permission of Myrna Daniels and L.A. Jazz Scene, the largest jazz publication in Southern California.
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