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TJP: Peace and Love

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Good singers need a good voice AND good timing, and with the release of Peace and Love, singer Paul Jost demonstrates both. The Philadelphia-based band TJP (formerly known as The Jost Project) has perfectly timed the release of Peace and Love, a collection of iconic songs from the 1960s and '70s with all the beauty and bombast of their socially and politically turbulent time.

"There couldn't be any better time to release an album called Peace and Love," suggests TJP bassist Kevin MacConnell. "Especially with our country so divided and polarized by political and social differences."

"We want to remember this music of a rebellious time when young people stood up against power and war," explains vibes player Tony Miceli, who originally came up with the idea for this collection and provides TJP's lead instrumental voice. "Great art and music often come out of times of conflict. I hope we will remind people of the '60s and '70s."

The TJP's solid instrumentalism builds a sturdy yet flexible framework for Jost's vocals: MacConnell, Miceli and drummer Doug Hirlinger have collectively played with Stanley Jordan, Ken Peplowski, Dave Liebman, and with such renowned vocalists as Mel Torme, Nancy Wilson, Billy Eckstine and Joe Williams. Joel Frahm, primary instrumental counterpoint in Jane Monheit's band, lends his singing saxophone to eight of these eleven tunes.

Some tracks work better than others but every one proves to be a chance worth taking. "Hush" is a great example of the TJP's multi-layered approach: Their jazz reinvention of a country songwriter's (Joe South) tune made popular by heavy British rockers Deep Purple shimmers with dynamic rhythms and changes, with MacConnell's bass driving like a piston between the drum and vibes beats, and Jost smearing around just enough blues to make it funky.

Miceli both drives and steers "Whiter Shade of Pale," which stretches Jost's vocalese to its limits while vibes and bass both namedrop Bach's "Air On A G String" (composer Gary Booker's acknowledged original inspiration).

The band collectively rips through a finger-snappin,' be-boppish "Time of the Season," with Jost's vocal skipping on top and Miceli and Frahm tumbling through straight-ahead jazz solos; its closing verse melts into a rocking take on the first line of The Beatles' "Day Tripper" in such a nicely natural way. Jost's rearrangement somehow finds "Tuesday Afternoon" in a Latin bag, with the bassist coolly striding between Latin and walking jazz rhythms, a much more busy "Afternoon" than Justin Haywardd's original for The Moody Blues.

Jost's vocal complements the reflective, yearning lyric of "Get Together" (The Youngbloods), into which the singer sprinkles droplets from "Waters of March" (Antonio Carlos Jobim) and which also features the Philadelphia Performing Arts Chorus. In "Message in a Bottle," Jost shades his voice in just the right colors of loneliness and wonder, while Frahm's saxophone sounds just like Branford Marsalis' soprano playing on Sting's solo projects!

(Longtime fans may note that the brightly colored butterfly on the cover of Peace and Love visually depicts TJP's evolution from their previous release, Can't Find My Way Home (2013, Dot Time), which featured a caterpillar on its cover.)

"Our hope is that the messages in Peace and Love will resonate with the listener and rekindle the memory and time when speaking out for peace and love was a way of life," Jost says.

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?"—Andrea del Sarto, Robert Browning

Track Listing: America; Hush; Shenandoah; Tuesday Afternoon; Get Together / Waters of March; Whiter Shade of Pale; Put a Little Love in Your Heart; Wonderful World; Time of The Season; Message in a Bottle; America The Beautiful.

Personnel: Paul Jost: vocals, harmonica; Tony Miceli: vibraphone; Kevin MacConnell: bass; Doug Hirlinger: drums; Joel Frahm: saxophone; Philadelphia Performing Arts Chorus: vocals.

Title: Peace and Love | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced


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