It's the vocalists that are most undersung these days. How one could not come to this conclusion upon having heard this delightful release by a little-known jazzman named Dick Mackey, is surely inconceivable.
Mr. Dick Mackey is a fine, fine vocalist that few outside of his native Columbus, Ohio have probably heard of. Through the miracle of recorded sound, however, those who don't live in Ohio fortunately have the opportunity to hear this man and his music, and should take up the chance.
Mackey's first cd is called "When Stars Come Out at Night"and it is a program of classic fare that is, at the same time, not your standard fare. Indeed, there's no "Autumn Leaves" or "Girl from Ipanema" here. No, from start to finish it's Mr. Mackey handpicking favorite tunes from the great American songbook- seldom heard but still very lovely items like the Livingston/Evans number"Almost in Your Arms" , a Johnny Mercer nugget "I Wanna Be In Love Again" and of course, the title tune "When Stars Come Out at Night" by Ray Noble.
Mackey has obviously done some mining here and wanted to have more than just a usual bag for his first cd. And, good enough as it's nice for the listener to get acquainted with some "other" classic tunes besides the most-often heard standards that hundreds of vocalists have chosen for their records.
Mackey's choice of "Dream of You", played with a very Kansas City-like feel by the band, is a nice piece of quaint pleasure. Further on he puts his blues credentials on display with "It Won't Be Long." It's a stomper that shows a more gritty side of Mackey. Mackey is probably at his finest though on the title track. Here he renders this classic Ray Noble tune with a sentimental but still reflective- not maudlin, feeling, and his deft turns on the final phrase ("...At Night") are memorable.
"I'm Gonna Laugh You Out of My Laugh", is arguably just as compelling though- here Mackey is backed only by the piano of his favorite accompanist, Mark Flugge. He responds to the greater amount of space with a more exposed delivery of his vibrato singing, which is a fine, melting vibrato. Flugge also turns out a perfectly tasteful solo- his contributions are all over this record in his stately accompaniment, and one wonders what his solo work is like as well.
Dick Mackey's vocal strengths are to be found most of all in his superb intonation, his buttery, silky vibrato, and of course, last but not least- his obvious zest for the music. The best vocalists communicate not only the nature of a song but a transcending love for that song, and it is clear here that Mr. Dick Mackey is no cold technician. The cat loves his music, and wouldn't pick a tune he couldn't love. His rendering of Dave Frishberg's "I Wanna Be A Sideman" is perhaps most revealing of the way he feels about jazz. In listening to his honest, earnest approach, you get the feeling he actually believes in those lyrics. "I wanna spend all my time with music and musicians....and hang out in the hotel bar... " We bet- The Jazzman lives on even in this day and age...
Dick Mackey, a charming vocalist from a city named Columbus that you probably wouldn't hear, but should...check him out.