I hadn't heard of Andy James before I must confess. The singer has a pleasant voice and while the whole record has the same kind of stately tempo throughout and hardly adventurous key signature choices James keeping a certain level throughout and sticking to the memo, it's a very good showing and steady if straight interpretation of a bunch of much-loved standards.
Of course this Evening is all supremely middle of the road and John Patitucci needs no introduction. So if that MOR thing offends you dear reader, thanks for reading thus far and see you. However still with us? There is a huge amount of musicianship here and James is not at all cheesy (a faultline that usually happens when singers get carried away which James does not). Many jazz musicians and fans are very romantic in their love of jazz standards even while going into more adventurous waters on their own projects and if that includes you dear marlbank reader you will find a lot to enjoy here in a comfort blanket of a record.
'Autumn In New York,' 'Besame Mucho,' 'I Love You And Don't You Forget It,' 'To Dream As One,' 'Moonlight In Vermont,' 'Day Dream,' 'Blackbird,' 'When I'm With You,' 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,' 'Unchain My Heart,' 'Fire & Rain,' 'Burn For Love,' 'Some Other Time,' 'Laura,' 'More Than You Know,' 'My Heart Belongs To Daddy,' and 'Angel Eyes' are the songs. For me the best two treatments are James' laidback treatment of 'Besame Mucho' and the simmering take on 'Angel Eyes' at the end that features a fine piano line from Bill Cunliffe.
James is married to Le Coq label founder Piero Pata and runs the new label with him. Le Coq got off to a very fine start this year with quite a few choice releases and I enjoyed the Rick Margitza release they put out most although most of the releases worked on one successful level or other.
Personnel on this new record just released include a range of A list globally renowned jazz musicians such as the great Wayne Shorter bassist Patitucci himself, Chris Potter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, the aforementioned Cunliffe and Margitza, John Beasley, Marcus Gilmore and Jon Cowherd. As we embark soon on the holiday season a non-Yule standards album of this ilk is a far better idea to wind down to than all the Christmas-themed tat swimming around put together. Criminally there's plenty of that from the usual suspects. Stephen Graham
Andy James, top. Photo via Le Coq on Bandcamp
Tags: Albums and EPs