Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

139

Paul Jost: The First Thing is Heart

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
Even for a musician who has been playing and singing since age six, Paul Jost has just come through one exceptional year.

First, he released his debut with The Jost Project, Can't Find My Way Home (2013, Dot.Time Records), featuring the leader on vocals, harmonica and guitar, with drummer Charlie Patierno, double bassist Kevin MacConnell and Tony Miceli on vibes. On Can't Find My Way Home, Jost remakes and remodels several classics from 1960s/'70s pop and rock FM radio playlists into genuinely inventive jazz—and not just some obscure bootleg or B-side tracks, but such iconic tunes as "Bridge Over Troubled Water" Simon & Garfunkel) and "Kashmir" (Led Zeppelin), all jumping off from Miceli's funk-thumping arrangement of "Walk This Way" (Aerosmith). "So if jazz is something you weren't familiar with before—this is a rock fan's primer to jazz," Jost wrote in this set's notes. "If you're a jazz fan, we hope you'll appreciate the diverse repertoire of songs performed in the modern jazz idiom."

Jost's subsequent Breaking Through (2014, Dot.Time Records) features the same type of adventurous jazz, often from reconstructed pop standards, with Jost adding keyboards and body percussion to his vocals and guitar. "I'm hoping to connect with you while presenting my music as a kind of balance between accessibility and risk... if that makes sense," wrote Jost in its notes. Along with MacConnell and Miceli, Breaking Through also features two of Philadelphia's finest and most longstanding musicians, pianist Jim Ridl and drummer Dan Monaghan. Gloria Krolak wrote in her review of Breaking Through that, "There is not a word that does not sound real or felt, even in standards which we're danger of not really hearing."

Breaking Through opens with Jost "Singing in the Rain" to honor his dear and departed friend, pianist and arranger George Mesterhazy. He later dances through "I Got Rhythm" and a duet on "Sweet Loraine" with pianist Strauss which strongly suggests Tony Bennett knocking off a merely perfect take with pianist Ralph Sharon. Other tunes include a Saturday night joyride through "I Don't Need No Doctor" written by Ashford & Simpson for Ray Charles and fueled by its percussion and a funk guitar hook, and vocal takes on McCoy Tyner's "Blues on Corner" and Jim Hall's "Waltz New." Strauss and Jost also team for a reverential prayer on Bill Evans' "Waltz For Debby" whereby the pianist more than honors Evans' playing through his own while Jost extracts and amplifies every bit of longing from Gene Lees' poignant, beautiful lyric.

Breaking Through also features Jost's original "Book Faded Brown," which has been covered by Carl Perkins, The Band and Rick Danko, who simply says, "'Book Faded Brown' is one of the best songs I've ever heard or done." (Jost is also a four-category blue-ribbon Billboard Song Content winner.) It's hard to explain but this song sounds the way that a soft chilly autumn night feels, and his phrasing and delivery are so simple, direct, unadorned, and pure—so emotionally and intellectually honest—that Jost becomes transparent and dissolves, leaving you alone in the story told by his song. It is simply brilliant.

"This is the best male voice I have ever heard in my life," Dot.Time Records Founder Johanan (Jo) Bickhardt confided in between Jost's sets at the Breaking Through CD release party at Philadelphia's jazz landmark Chris' Jazz Café. "What he does is vocally illegal."

In the course of his career, Jost has also performed and/or recorded with Ron Carter, Billy Eckstine, Joe Farrell, Dr. John, Teo Macero, Mark Murphy, Bucky Pizzarelli and dozens more, and has composed and performed music for major music libraries and commercial jingles. He also served as drummer in an off-Broadway production of Andy Warhol's Man on the Moon featuring John Phillips (The Mamas & the Papas) and serves as guest lecturer and instructor for West Chester (PA) University and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He will appear at the 55 Bar in New York City on February 20, 2015.

"Music spoke to my heart the instant I was exposed to it, and each experience has added to a continuing dialogue that becomes more beautiful and more meaningful in my life," Jost explains. This dialogue continues in the following interview.

All About Jazz: Was there much music in your house growing up?

Paul Jost: I wasn't really raised with much music around me. There was a piano at my grandmother's house where I'd visit my father on weekends. I played it from the time I was about four years old, same as any kid gravitates toward an instrument. But it wasn't like anyone played in my family. I was an only child up until my mom remarried when I was twelve.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Julian Priester: Reflections in Positivity Interview Julian Priester: Reflections in Positivity
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 8, 2017
Read Aaron Goldberg: Exploring the Now Interview Aaron Goldberg: Exploring the Now
by Luke Seabright
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Pat Metheny: Driving Forces Interview Pat Metheny: Driving Forces
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 10, 2017
Read Bill Anschell: Curiosity and Invention Interview Bill Anschell: Curiosity and Invention
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 9, 2017
Read Tomas Fujiwara: The More the Better Interview Tomas Fujiwara: The More the Better
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 6, 2017
Read "Fred Anderson: On the Run" Interview Fred Anderson: On the Run
by Lazaro Vega
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Carmen Rothwell: The Art of Intuition" Interview Carmen Rothwell: The Art of Intuition
by Paul Rauch
Published: August 25, 2017
Read "Lwanda Gogwana: Tradition and Innovation" Interview Lwanda Gogwana: Tradition and Innovation
by Seton Hawkins
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Pat Metheny: Driving Forces" Interview Pat Metheny: Driving Forces
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 10, 2017
Read "Clarence Becton: Straight Ahead Into Freedom" Interview Clarence Becton: Straight Ahead Into Freedom
by Barbara Ina Frenz
Published: January 19, 2017

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!