Albums

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Vocal Jazz - Released November 9, 2018 | Decca (UMO)

If there's one word that comes to mind while listening to 2018's The Capitol Studio Sessions -- the debut album from part-time jazz pianist and full-time Jeff Goldblum impersonator Jeff Goldblum -- it's charm. Joking aside, just as with his acting, Goldblum's musical stage presence percolates with his unmistakable charisma, and further cements his long-standing persona as a witty, quirky, gregarious presence. While the album often feels like Goldblum giving one big wink and a smile to his adoring fans after another, part of the fun is that he has the chops to back it up. Having studied piano growing up in Pittsburgh and played lounge gigs throughout much of his career, Goldblum is certainly a gifted performer. While he hands much of the improvisational work over to his bandmates, as a bandleader he acquits himself ably throughout the album, with a warm harmonic sensibility and wonderfully swinging style on full display. Here, he is captured live at the storied Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, backed by his longtime ensemble of studio-pros the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra (lovingly named after a family friend in Pittsburgh). Joining him are a select cadre of special guests including singers Haley Reinhart and Imelda May, trumpeter Till Bronner, and on the giddy, self-referential duet "Me and My Shadow," singer/comedian Sarah Silverman. While Goldblum is the main attraction, he smartly spreads the spotlight, allowing Reinhart and May to sashay their ways through saucy renditions of "My Baby Just Cares For Me," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," and "Come-On-A-My-House." Similarly, he gives Bronner a plethora of solo time, with tracks like the ballad "It Never Entered My Mind," and the organ-accented groover "Don't Mess with Mister T.” One of the many impressive aspects of the Capitol Studio Sessions is just how balanced Goldblum's skills are as he deftly moves his audience from perky vocal standards to swinging instrumental numbers -- each transition aided, of course, with some very charming stage banter. ~ Matt Collar
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Vocal Jazz - Released November 9, 2018 | Decca (UMO)

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Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

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Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

This second of three CDs of early Ellington released by Bluebird has the loose theme of his Cotton Club days as an excuse to release a variety of recordings from a five-year period. Highlights include the two part "A Night at the Cotton Club" (essentially a medley), some of the hotter songs from the Broadway musical Blackbirds of 1928 ("Bandanna Babies," in addition to an odd vocal, has one of trumpeter Bubber Miley's greatest solos), some mood pieces and two lengthy medleys from 1932. Although the music deserves to be reissued as complete sessions, this sampler is consistently delightful and shows that, when it came to swing, Ellington (along with Fletcher Henderson) predated everyone. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

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Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

This CD has two formerly rare broadcasts featuring the Duke Ellington Orchestra near the peak of its powers. The earlier session is highlighted by "Jazz Potpourri," "Rose of the Rio Grande" and "Pussy Willow" while the later date (which finds Jimmy Blanton on bass) has fine versions of "Little Posey," "Tootin' Through the Roof" and "Merry-Go-Round" among others. With trumpeters Cootie Williams and Rex Stewart, trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton and Lawrence Brown, clarinetist Barney Bigard, altoist Johnny Hodges, baritonist Harry Carney and Ellington himself among the main soloists, and Ivie Anderson and Herb Jeffries contributing vocals, it would be surprising if this CD were not on the want lists of many Ellington collectors. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

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Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

$4.99

Vocal Jazz - Released November 7, 2018 | Reborn recordings

Still riding the success of his triumphant concert at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, Duke Ellington in 1958 decided to reduce his touring orchestra to a nonet dubbed "the Spacemen" in 1958, and recorded this lone project with them for the Columbia label. Perhaps inspired by the first orbiting satellites, Ellington is not taking cues from George Russell or Sun Ra, whose extraterrestrial inspirations led them down even more progressive paths. This large ensemble is playing mostly standards, but the arrangements and solos carve an integrated yet elasticized concept that allows for a more expanded role for the ensemble's trombonists Quentin "Butter" Jackson, John Sanders, and Britt Woodman, and select soloists. One in the solo spotlight is Clark Terry on flugelhorn exclusively, putting his fabled trumpet aside. The classic material presented includes clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton's features "Avalon" and "Early Autumn," the slinky stripper pole blues version of "St. Louis Blues" with Ellington's piano taking the lead, and two versions of "Body & Soul," with tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves completely extrapolating and re-harmonizing the main take, while faithfully playing the original melody on the alternate selection. There's a modified "Perdido," an animated and perky "Midnight Sun" that deviates from any other slow and lugubrious version of the ballad, and two attempts of "Jones" -- the first a real good swinger, the second with a more unified horn chart accented by a New Orleans shuffle provided by drummer Sam Woodyard. There are two originals; the blues bass of Jimmy Woode and the 'bones with plentiful piano from Duke infusing "Bass-Ment," and one of the more delightful of all of Ellington's book, the poppin' and boppin' "Spacemen," a bright happy horn chart led by Terry that is one of the more distinctive Ellington numbers of this time period. ~ Michael G. Nastos

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Vocal Jazz in the magazine