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Blue Jay Patten: Street Scene

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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With Street Scene, multitalented musician/composer/producer Blue Jay Patten engages in a highly entertaining tribute to (and stroll through) Nashville, "Music City." Patten—long a fixture in the 'ville—and his various crews deliver an eclectic, upbeat, and all-around fun tour. As is the city it salutes, Street Scene is a veritable gumbo of genres—contemporary, jazz, country, gospel, pop and folk—each approached with integrity, outstanding musicianship and sparkling sass.

Appropriately for a Nashville nod, the instrumental opener, "Rocky Top," has Patten's alto "kickin' A" over a laid-back and very classic country and western groove. "Nice to Be Here" has Patten singing his welcome over a "Groovin'"-like vibe. "There's a Rainbow," a duet with songstress Crystal Gayle (with whom Patten has worked for decades), is an upbeat two-beat showstopper that shades Bobby Darin and swings superbly. "Hometown Serenade" is a silky smooth-groove alto kiss. The old Everly Brothers' Top 10 hit, "Let It Be Me," is covered straight up and in a hip, contemporary style.

Patten's saxophone chops are tasty, inventive, and never disingenuous. His seven originals on the session display his vast experience performing in a town that's tattooed with five lines and four spaces. Wisely, he knows his grooves and extracts things out of his horn with flair to fit each of the various styles—that's versatility. Vocally, Patten has an engaging timbre and a rather unique, almost theatrical presentation (think a contemporized, less-intense Anthony Newley) and obviously loves diving deep into lyrics. He's savvy—a showman, but no show-off.

Soundtrack patriarch, Alfred Newman's "Street Scene" finds Patten's crisp alto and tenor saxophones lilting beautifully in tandem. "Heart to Heart, Soul to Soul," a romantic duet with chanteuse Jonell Mosser, is an album highlight. "Music Row Stomp" is just that—a fiercely fiddled and wailing alto down-home, heel-stomping romp. The beautifully rendered ballad, "Peace Prayer," brings the curtain down on this neat homage.

The various musicians on the album are all A1+, all brilliantly buying into things, with all the various soloists exceptional. The production values are superb. As producer, Patten has pulled off a very fine 'ville showcase.

Street Scene may not appeal to jazz purists. There's no straight-ahead here, although Patten and all of the musicians are superb improvisers. Street Scene is, rather, a display of great music of appealing and exciting variety. And, when you add to that players who are drenched in spirit, soul and, obviously, love, who could ask for anything more?

Track Listing: Rocky Top; Nice to Be Here; Lady Blue; There's a Rainbow; Hometown Serenade; Let It Be Me; When Love Goes; Endless Possibilities; Street Scene; When Johnny Comes Marching Home; Heart to Heart; Soul to Soul; Music Row Stomp; Peace Prayer.

Personnel: Blue Jay Patten: vocals, alto and tenor saxophones, guitar, mandolin, keyboards; Crystal Gayle: vocal (4); Jonnell Mosser: vocal (11); Andy Reiss: guitar (1, 2, 5, 7, 11); John Kearns: guitar (6, 12); Mike Loudermilk: guitar; (10); Billy Contreras: fiddle (12); Richard Bailey; banjo (1); Steve Willis: keys (6); Will Barrow; keys (11); Tim Veazey: vocal (3), vocal (3); Toni Sehulster: bass (1, 3, 8, 11); Rob Price: bass (2, 4-7, 9, 12); Ike Harris: bass (10); Dave Nelson: drums (2, 5, 9); Duane Norman: drums (3, 6, 7, 12); Rick Lonow: drums (1, 4, 8, 10, 11, 13); Vickie Carrico: background vocal (2); Jonnell Mosser: background vocal (2); Roger Cook: whistle (9); Jim Williamson: trumpet (4); Barry Green: trombone (4); Jeff Steinberg: horn and string arrangements (4).

Title: Street Scene | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Flamingo

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