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Keith Ailer: Spaces & Places

Jim Santella By

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Since the male jazz vocalist remains a universal minority, Keith Ailer’s arrival on the scene represents a rare occasion. His voice is deep and strong, not unlike the clear delivery of Nat King Cole. For his session, Ailer has enlisted exciting partners who carry the jazz torch and improvise with hot hard-bop solos. Established in 1993, the Jazzateria label lists an eclectic group of artists: some new, some veterans, and all worth the attention.

"Midnight Sun" and "I Love You for Sentimental Reasons" emit a spark, a fair amount of drama, and some romance to surround Ailer’s solid delivery. His supporting ensemble enhances the affair with a welcome and spontaneous approach. Later, Gary Bartz and Marc Cary turn a corny arrangement of Lionel Bart’s "Where Is Love" into a swinger through their solo opinions. Of Ailer’s five original tunes, three stand off to one side as smooth R&B songs for our generation; they’re touched-up by the lush flute work of Y.C. Laws. The other two, "Spaces & Places" and "Blues For Khaliq," are performed as instrumental numbers with a mainstream jazz intensity that combines a loose swing with hot saxophone and piano improvisation. Although uneven, Keith Ailer’s album represents a tasteful vocal scene with superb accompaniment.

Title: Spaces & Places | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: RCA

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