Some musical experiences are planned, some are created and others are stumbled upon. Last night was a stumble upon experience. Heading into the city to say farewell to a woman near and dear to my heart for many years, a group of us decided to peak in on the burlesque show that was taking place at the Cutting Room in Manhattan. Another highly recommended music venue as they just reopened at their new location and it’s phenomenal. When we peeked in, of course, there were scantily clad women doing fairly impressive gymnastic maneuvers. However, what really caught my attention was the band playing behind the women. Later on in the night I spoke with the lead singer, Brian Newman, got the CD “Live From New York City” from him and am about to review the first set of their performance on that cd for you here.
The CD is a recorded live performance at the Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel; using a Casa Nova Studios Mobile Recording Unit – incase you were interested. The performance consists of three sets, however, the first set is what will be covered in this post.
The introduction sets the tone for the first set in a big way. The voice and commentary is very authentic to the historical jazz period. Tone of voice, inflection, and obviously the content create the image for the listener of men in jazz suits lightly snapping their fingers and tapping their toes as the speaker extols New York’s virtue as the epicenter of “shipping, transportation, communication, finance, fashion and above all entertainment.”
Next comes Mr. Newman himself to the mic and his smooth, liquid chocolate like voice comes across so crisp and clean it really makes me wonder how much that authentic looking “jazz era” microphone cost them, however that’s neither here nor there.
“My Blue Heaven” was the first song they chose to perform and when I say they I mean: Brian Newman, Vocals and Trumpet, Alex Smith, Organ, Paul Francis, Drums, and Steve Kortyka, Tenor Saxophone. The selection as an opening number was applause worthy because it really highlights all the attention grabbing aspects that categorized the group overall. It was fast paced, highlighting Mr. Newman’s vocal control which is really extraordinary. It doesn’t highlight his range too well, which is also great, and becomes apparent later on in the performance on tracks like “Night and Day” and “That’s All.” “My Blue Heaven” also shows the expertise that each individual musician brings to the table, by allowing them each to have substantial solo time, as well as, showing the way they can all blend together to create a sound that is fresh yet classic at the same time.
The theme of “My Blue Heaven” is that home, family, and the simple life are heaven. This really sets the tone for the rest of their first performance set, which focuses on growth within and the dynamics of a romantic relationship. The songs that they chose to perform and their chronological placement seem to take the listener through the ups and downs of the relationship rollercoaster. “Night and Day” and “Our Love is Here to Stay” focus on the simple nature of love and create that love is all you need type of imagery. Following these are the songs “Don’t Worry Bout Me” and “How Insensitive” which are about an individual telling their ex lover that they will be fine, urging them to go find their own happiness and an apology for being unable to reciprocate the love they are being offered by a lover they now need to end things with, respectfully.
The last song of the set, “That’s All” is a lovely ballad that juxtaposes the nature of the above two songs to perfection.
“All I have are these arms to enfold you and a love the world can never destroy.”
Again, focus on love as simple, love as fulfilling all your needs, the diminishing of the importance of worldly goods.
These men are great musicians, with a talented vocalist, and a musical concept that is the cat’s meow. It’s comprehensive, planned perfectly and executed beautifully. They make jazz fun and get your feet tapping and shoulders bopping.
More to come on their second and third sets but I highly recommend anyone reading this to look them up and see if they can find a performance.