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Top-shelf vocal talents, beautifully crafted arrangements of classic songs, and a mile-long list of musicians to make said arrangements come to life. What's not to like?
Jeremy Foxa pianist/educator/arranger/vocal coach who's worked with everybody from trumpeter Terence Blanchard to vocalist Theo Bleckmannput together a project that recalls the days of big-budget studio affairs carried out for the express purpose of draping vocal royalty in musical finery. Those days are long gone, and few in the industry have the time, money or interest in making such projects anymore, so it's a joy to encounter somebody like Fox, willing to buck the trend and put it all out there in the service of music.
With Love, the debut release under Fox's name, was born out of his doctoral work in jazz composition at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. The idea behind the project was simple: put together a killer line-up of vocalists, write custom charts for each one, then record the finished product. And what a line-up it is: Kate McGarry, Kevin Mahogany, Peter Eldridge, Lauren Kinhan , Kate Reid, and a handful of other respected vocalists drop in and deliver first-rate performances on material from the likes of Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, and other classic songsmiths. Over eighty musicians help to realize Fox's arrangements, which, by and large, fit these singers to a T.
Reid sings and scats over a swinging "That Old Feeling," McGarry is entrancing on a string-suffused "All My Tomorrows," and Mahogany's deep-and-smooth voice counters the light Brazilian-tinged backing he receives on "Three Little Words." Fox pulls things back for his piano-meets-strings arrangement of Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around," which features touching vocals from Sunny Wilkinson, and he gives "Girl Talk" a bluesy patina that suits Wendy Pedersen's voice just fine. Other highlights include an alluring "Moonray," which gives Kinhan a chance to let loose, and "So Many Stars," which gives Reid another opportunity to shine, this time in a far gentler setting.
It's clear that this album, from conception to completion, was a labor of love for Jeremy Fox. It shows in every nuance and note.
Track Listing: That Old Feeling; All My Tomorrows; Three Little Words; Get Out Of Town; Not While I'm Around; Girl Talk; Dindi; Friendship; I'm Glad There Is You; Moonray; So Many Stars.
Personnel: Jeremy Fox: arrangements, conducting, piano (5), keyboard (6); Kate Reid: vocals (1, 11); Kate McGarry: vocals (2); Kevin Mahogany: vocals (3); Derek Fawcett: vocals (4); Sunny Wilkinson: vocals (5); Wendy Pedersen: vocals (6); Rose Max: vocals (7); Ramatis Moraes: vocals (7); Anders Edenroth: vocals (8); Peter Eldridge: vocals (9); Lauren Kinhan: vocals (10); Cassandra Eisenreich: flute; Ernesto Fernandez: flute; Allison Hubbell: flute; James Drayton: oboe; Rachel Lueck: English horn; Peter Bianca: clarinet; Derek Smith: clarinet, bassoon, bass clarinet; Isabel Thompson: clarinet; Carlos Felipe Vina: bassoon; Julia Paine: bassoon; Stanley Spinola: horn; Larysa Pavelek: horn; Jon Lusher: horn; Sarah Williams: horn; Matthew Shefcik: flugelhorn; Adam Diderrich: violin; Michelle Godbee: violin; Patricia Jancova: violin; Karen Lord-Powell: violin; Zachary Piper: violin; Katrina Schaefer: violin; James Schlender: violin; Arianne Urban: violin; Abby Young: violin (5, 7); Steffen Zeichner: violin; Amanda Diaz: viola; Emily Jones: viola; Robyn Savitzky: viola; Kathryn Severing (5, 7); Joy Adams: cello (5, 7); Sarah Gongaware: cello; Cecilia Huerta: cello; Chris Young: cello; Pedro Fernandez: percussion; Nathan Skinner: vibraphone; Maria Chlebus: vibraphone (6); Vivek Gurudutt: table; Phuttaraksa Kamnirdratana: harp; Ryan Chapman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Paul Equihua: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jared Hall: trumpet, flugelhorn; Derek Ganong: trumpet, flugelhorn; Eric Bowman: trombone; Stephen Szabadi: trombone; Chris Gagne: trombone; Major Bailey: bass trombone; Neil Carson: saxophone; Dan Andrews: saxophone; Alex Weitz: saxophone; Matt Burchard: saxophone; Derek Smith: saxophone; Mark Small: clarinet; Ernesto Fernandez: flute; Erin Fishler-Branam: vocals (8); Sherrine Mostin: scratch vocals; Daniel Strange: piano, keyboards; Rene Toledo: guitar; Geoffrey Saunders: bass; Michael Piolet: drums; Ramatis Moraes: guitar (7); Lindsey Blair: guitar (6); Zach Larmer: guitar (6); Steve Lewis: drums (6); Angelo Versace: piano (4); Tim Jago: guitar (4); Daniel Susnjar: (4).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.