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Vocalist-guitarist Fred Wisdom has put together a damn good jazz band. With himself on guitar, Jo Ruddick on piano, Percy Bassman on double bass, Jim Bashford on drums and Chris Bowden on alto sax, Wisdom’s unit sounds at times like a modern day Cool band that Miles and Evans would have dug. The group is aided and abetted by several impressive guest stars.
If Words of Wisdom was strictly instrumental, this would be a very good album. But Wisdom’s voice, lyrics and his phrasing bring the album up a notch. Wisdom possesses a deep, soulful voice reminiscent in some ways of the jazzier/reggae side of Sting. His lyrics are artfully creative, yet to the point. Wisdom’s blues writing is especially impressive as it maintains originality while drawing upon the great tradition. Many paragraphs could be written about Wisdom’s vocal phrasing. Perhaps without his knowledge or intention, his influences can not go unnoticed. In addition to the previously mentioned Sting, Wisdom, at least on the jazz numbers, seems to have been infected by the playful spirit of the great jazz singer Betty Carter. Throw in the influences of a few more top jazz/blues/pop/reggae vocalists and you have a wonderful recipe.
“We Should Fight” is the best cut on the album, but the others do not suffer in comparison. The pieces feature the whole package from cutting-edge jazz blowing to moving blues complete with catchy lyrics and ingratiating hooks. The musicianship on Words of Wisdom is tight and upbeat. This album's overall fun-loving vibe will have you listening again and again.
Although I would have liked to hear more of Wisdom’s guitar playing, one can not deny that Wisdom not only buys all the groceries—he cooks them too. Words of Wisdom is a tasty dish that will have you asking for seconds.
Track Listing: We Should Fight; What's a Man Supposed to do?; You; Black Guy; Copyright on Pain; Voodoo Powers; Song for Cath;
I've Lost the Battle
Personnel: Fred Wisdom- vocals, guitar; Jo Ruddick- Piano; Percy Bassman- Double Bass; Jim Bashford- drums; Chris Bowden- Alto Sax- plus guest stars
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop. But nothing has touched my artistic sensiblities like JAZZ! Two years ago I moved to Sarasota, FL where I renewed my focus on my singing career and I was so impressed with the quality, quantity and generousity of talented jazz musicains in the Suncoast area. I soon partnered with piano legend Billy Marcus and his trio with Don Mopsick and Stephen Bucholtz. What a blast working with these guys and having them back me up on my first jaz album, Here's To You... which was just released on October 1st. I can't wait to see where the coming year brings me! Check out syniacarrolljazz.com