Asking if Jose Garcia is a jazz singer is like asking the same to Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett. The most conservative answer is "no," that they are, perhaps, "popular music stylists." They are the vehicles that introduce and reintroduce the great American songbook to a public craving the high quality craftsmanship of these songs originally written for screen, stage, and radio from the 1920s through today. Improvisation is not prime directive of these singers; the melody is and, as such, new artists like Garcia playing the older music is part of a collective effort to "keep the flame" of classic American popular music.
A native of Mexico, Garcia emerges as an almost flawless vocalist. His turns on Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "Night and Day" to reveal an impressive talent well executed in the music. His voice is powerful and precise and is best cast in the standards "Besame Mucho" and the Mexican "Sabor a mi," on which the singer plays more than competent guitar. Backed by a standard piano trio, Garcia is rightfully given plenty of room to share his expansive voice. "You Go To My Head," "Sabor a M," and "This Could Be The Start of Something Big" all provide a perfect coda to a well paced concert of standards.
Will Garcia be mistaken for Kurt Elling or Mark Murphy? No, because that is not his gig. The importance of the popular music vocalists lie in a conservative faith to the melody, thereby providing a glimpse into what the composers were intending with the music. Using these interpretations as a ground zero, jazz improvisation on these familiar themes can better be understood and enjoyed. Older instrumentalists like saxophonist Lester Young placed a premium on both knowing the original melody and lyrics to the Songbook before playing. Lacking such awareness results in incomplete performances. Garcia provides a valuable service to jazz with his considerable singing talent.
I Get a Kick Out of You; The Shadow of Your Smile; Night and Day; I Left My Heart in San Francisco; Besame Mucho; I Wish You Love; All of Me; You Go To My Head; Sabor a Mi; This Could Be The Start of Something Big.
Jose Garcia: vocals, acoustic guitar; Carlos Rodgarman: piano; Mike Paganini: bass; Pablo Correa: drums.