In the past, many jazz singers were considered pop vocalists. For instance, on a recent Tony Bennett compilation, there is an autographed picture of Frank Sinatra which Ol' Blue Eyes dedicated "to the bes g.d. Pop singer I've ever heard." But today that would not exactly be true, and jazz-pop meshes are difficult tasks to face, so newcomer Andrew Suvalsky deserves to be commended for his efforts on this debut.
Suvalsky begins by taking on pop standards such as Robert Freeman's "Do You Wanna Dance" and Bacharach/David's "This Guy's in Love With You," which are stripped to simple, effective arrangements that focus on his sincere approach. He also convincingly does a George Benson-inspired take on "We're In This Love Together." However, his attempt to update songs like Roy Orbison's "Crying" and Stephen Stills' "Love The One You're With" backfire terribly. You can feel how he was unable to put his heart into the singing of these immortal pop tunes, especially the latter.
But Suvalsky truly shines on the jazz standards. He takes on "Alright, Okay, You Win" masterfully, lending it a bluesy feel that gives him a lot of opportunities to show his chops. His spirited performance on Cole Porter's obscure "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" is remarkable. So is the Earl Brent/Matt Dennis tune "Angel Eyes," featuring a very good, down-to-the-basics piano and vocal combination (with great playing by pianist Wells Hanley)which is appropriate for a song that was immortalized by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Sinatra.
Suvalsky ends the CD with "The Best Is Yet To Come," featuring Scott Harrell on trumpet. Whether the best really is yet to come, I can't help but hope that Suvalsky graces us with a complete jazz album, which would make him a welcome addition to the world of male vocalists.
Track Listing: Do Want to Dance; This Guy's in Love with You; We're in this Love Together; Close to Me;
Crying; Love is Alive; Love the One You're With; This Year's Love; Alright, Okay, You Win;
You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to; Everything I've Got; Angel Eyes; The Best is Yet to Come.
Personnel: Andrew Suvalsky: vocals; Josh Margolis, Michael V. Duane: background vocals; Wells Hanley:
keyboards; David Easton: keyboards (9); Craig Spano (1), Thomas Marsh (11), Josh Margolis
(2,3,8), Ken Cedar (4-7,9): guitar; Josh Margolis: percussion; James Joughlin: bass; Scott
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.