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Joe Bourne: Upbeat And Sweet

Mark Sullivan By

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"Upbeat And Sweet" is a pretty good summary of the feel of this collection of songs from mellow jazz vocalist Joe Bourne. But the subtitle is even more telling: "Jazz-infused classic rock & pop songs." None of these songs come from the canon of the Great American Songbook, and many of them seem downright unlikely choices for jazz treatment at first glance.

Just to prove that point, the program begins with Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride." Within a few bars it's clear the swing arrangement feels completely natural, and we know we're in good hands. Credit has to go to the core rhythm section of pianist Doug Martin, bassist Mike Levy (who also arranged and produced), and drummer Lewis Nash, and on this track tenor saxophonist Greg Armstrong adds a significant dose of jazz flavor. The Captain and Tennille's "Muskrat Love" stretches enough to allow a little bit of scat singing, and Blood, Sweat and Tears' "You've Made Me So Very Happy" gets new life as a samba/swing tune.

Carole King's "Jazzman" receives a rhythm and blues treatment not far from the original, but the dueling trumpet and saxophone give it the jazz sound implied by the title. Peter Frampton's "Baby, I Love Your Way" sounds terrific as a samba, while Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" closes the set with a lovely ballad treatment.

Bourne's voice calls the great Nat "King" Cole to mind, and one can imagine him making song choices like these if he was working today. But there is nothing derivative about the sound of this album. All twelve songs in the diverse set work as jazz tunes, and the audacity of the choices is balanced by the joy in their delivery.

Track Listing: Magic Carpet Ride; With A Little Help From My Friends; When I Need You; Muskrat Love; You've Made Me So Very Happy; Heartache Tonight; Jazzman; Just Like A Woman; You've Got A Friend; Don't Stop; Baby, I Love Your Way; Wonderful Tonight.

Personnel: Joe Bourne: vocals; Doug Martin: piano; Mike Levy: upright bass, electric bass, organ, percussion; Lewis Nash: drums; Ed DeLucia: guitar; Greg Armstrong: tenor saxophone; Brice Winston: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Matt Mitchell: guitar; Jason Carder: flugelhorn, trumpet; Sly Slipetsky: piano.

Title: Upbeat And Sweet | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Summit Records

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