This fourth date from John Proulx clearly marks a new chapter in his career. After delivering three albums on the now-defunct MAXJAZZ imprint, and after a hiatus from recording under his own name, this triple-threat vocalist-pianist-composer returns with his first independently-produced offering. The music spotlights a man who's grown more comfortable in his skin and lived more of what life has to offer.
With a band stacked with West Coast heavyweights, a playlist marked by eclectic material highlighting his myriad gifts, and a producerin vocalist Judy Wexler
adept at shaping an album, Proulx has everything in its right place. Say It
sets sail with a swinging "Gentle Rain" that immediately juxtaposes his cool school vocals against brighter backing. Whether delivering the lyrics, trading solos with drummer Joe LaBarbera, or running a unison line down with guitarist Larry Koonse
, he seems to sit squarely in his wide comfort zone. The same goes on what immediately followsa lightly funky and humorous stroll through Michael Franks' "Scatsville," a nostalgia-laced "The Summer Knows" emotionally augmented by Alan Broadbent
's string arrangement, and a "Watch What Happens" with backbeat bonhomie.
The title track, anchored by a signature bass line and offering space to Koonse's guitar, is, like Proulx himself, a model of poise. Everything just sounds and feels natural. That ease of expression surfaces time and againon the stop-time blues cruise through Mose Allison
's "I Don't Worry About A Thing," the sentimental journey across Broadbent's "The Last Goodbye," a meeting with guest vocalist Melissa Manchester
on their co-penned "Stained Glass," a cheerier-than-the-norm skip through Duke Ellington
and Billy Strayhorn
's "Something To Live For"and it's central to the success of his work. Proulx is honest to the corecheck out his album-closing take on Joni Mitchell
's "Both Sides Now" for further proof. Ultimately, it's that genuine quality that sets this music apart.
Track Listing: Gentle Rain; Scatsville; The Summer Knows; Watch What Happens; Say It; I Don’t Worry About a Thing; The Last Goodbye; Stained Glass; Something to Live For; Both Sides Now.
Personnel: John Proulx: piano, vocals; Chuck Berghofer: bass; Joe LaBarbera: drums; Larry Koonse: guitar; Bob Sheppard: tenor sax, soprano sax; Billy Hulting: auxiliary percussion; Melissa Manchester: vocals; The Gina Kronstadt Strings-Gina Kronstadt: violin; Susan Chatman: violin; Rodney Wurtz: viola; Stefanie Fife: cello.
Title: Say It
| Year Released: 2018
| Record Label: ArtistShare