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Bill Cote: Where Do You Start

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Sometimes preconceived notions about recordings can be smashed to smithereens in the most wonderful way. What, yet another GAS-and-jazz-standards recording—this one a debut from a middle-age male vocalist whose main gig is law? Well, quoting TV Land's "Gomer Pyle," "Surprise, surprise!" And, a most enjoyable musical discovery in the Cracker Jack® box it is.

Right from the Start featuring vocalist Bill Cote and backed by the Tamir Hendelman Trio, delivers a whopping 16 excellently presented selections drawn from the Great American Songbook, Broadway and Pop ("Where or When," "On a Clear Day," "Sunday in New York"). Coté's performance here certainly begs the question about his musical whereabouts to date.

Coté, a wide-bodied baritone (in the vocal sense) possesses a resonance the uncanny equivalent some of the great baritones of jazz—Johnny Hartman, Arthur Prysock and Billy Eckstine, and a sense of swing—sans scat—of Giacomo Gates and Kurt Elling ("I Just Found Out About Love"). As muscular as his voice is, Coté does not allow strength to overshadow lyric or emotional content ("When Do the Bells Ring for Me?" "Never Let Me Go"). He knows his tunes inside-out, offers fine dynamic range and acknowledges the emotional import and power of a well-sung lyric line (Never Let Me Go"). His intonation is spot on throughout his range, and although his is a more robust voice in lower registers than higher, it is very much a come hither vocal instrument.

Pianist Tamir Hendelman, who did the arranging, supports his front man with exquisite taste. His overall interplay with Coté is terrific throughout, allowing harmonic under parts to weave well with Coté's melodic lines. Bassist Martin Wind drives all along and drummer, Joe La Barbera(who knows from great singers and pianists, having backed Tony Bennett and Bill Evans for years) deploys his set superbly to tastefully swing and sizzle. Guests Bob Sheppard ("When Sunny Gets Blue," "I Just Found Out About Love") and Graham Dechter ("My Funny Valentine," "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most") also shine.

While the Scales of Justice are equivalently balanced, tips very heavily positive as a superb opening vocal statement by a fine artist and his team. Strike the sound block. Case closed.

Track Listing: Where or When; When Do the Bells Ring for Me?; Teach Me Tonight; What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?; LA State of Mind; Who Can I Turn To?; Satin Doll; Where Do You Start; Sunday in New York; My Funny Valentine; When Sunny Gets Blue; Never Let Me Go; On a Clear Day;Spring Can really Hang You Up the Most; I Just Found Out About Love; Indian Summer.

Personnel: Bill Cote: vocals; Tamir Hendelman: piano; Martin wind: bass; Joe La Barbera: drums; Bob Sheppard: sax, flute; Graham Dechter: guitar.

Title: Where Do You Start | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


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