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Henry Darragh: Tell Her for Me

C. Michael Bailey By

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Do we really need one more trombonist/singer from Texas? Well, seeing that the only one that comes to mind presently is "Tea" Jack Teagarden, then, well, yes we do. Multi-instrumentalist Henry Darragh completely fits the musical bill. While Darragh looks more like a physics graduate student at UT-Austin, he is, actually, an accomplished composer/performer, who leads multiple combos in everything from Tejano-jazz to mainstream. Don't let his appearance scare you, Henry Darragh is not a statistician.

On a completely different subject, except that it involves Darragh: It would seem impossible that there could be a sweeter-natured jazz vocal voice than John Proulx's or Beat Kaestli's? Well, yes, there is...and he is this same Henry Darragh. Tell Her For Me is an august collection of surprising and delightful standards and originals.

Darragh begins his recital with the Ross-Adler standard, "Hey There." The only thing more clever than than the lyrics is Darragh's almost teenage innocent delivery. His is such a fragile and friable voice; the voice Chet Baker would have died for, had he not already done so, falling from that Amsterdam hotel window in 1988. John Proulx's voice may be smoother and Beat Kaestil's more sophisticated, but Darragh's is more organic and authentic (no knock to Proulx or Kaestil, who are superb singers).

Darragh's piano and trombone playing are also excellent throughout. Trumpeter Carol Morgan is onhand, toning down the muscular tone of her playing from her own debut, Opening (Blue Bamboo, 2010), to be more in keeping with Darragh's Texas sugarcane voice. Her tone resembles a melancholy Bix Beiderbecke, breathy with gin and time, while saxophonist Seth Paynter fully indoctrinates the recording as jazz.

Darragh barrows broadly from both the songbooks of Chet Baker and Bill Evans. His "Everything Happens to Me" demonstrating how the song should be sung—full of innocence and guile. Darragh makes "Look for the Silver Lining," also covered by Baker, sound so comfortable, one would like to dress in it and step out into the harsh winter...protected by his love.

Track Listing: Hey There; Regret; Everything Happens To Me; Once In A While; Early; Dream Boxes; Missing You; Tell Her For Me; Wrong Ending; Look For the Silver Lining; The Harvard Dictionary of Music Song.

Personnel: Henry Darragh: vocal, piano, trombone; Seth Paynter: tenor saxophone; Carol Morgan: trumpet; Erin Wright: guitar; Glen Ackerman: bass; Chuck Payne: drums.

Title: Tell Her for Me | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced


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