Heart to Heart, Turnipseed CD TMCD.10 (60:59), 1995
Soulful jazz singing in an interesting trio
This live recording captures Philip Manuels soulful jazz baritone in a
fine collection of standards and originals. Manuel is a real jazz singer, with
a flexible sense of phrasing and a jazzers freedom with the melody. With
only sax (mostly tenor, some alto) and bass backing him, he works as a fully
contributing member of the trio, adding effective vocal and percussive accents
when he is not singing.
There are several good old standards on the disk, as well as three originals by
Manual and Dagradi and one song ("Fragile") by Sting. Most of the
tunes are taken at a moderate to brisk tempo. The street walker in "Love
for Sale" is certainly eager to get back to work. (I wonder if this Cole
Porter tune is mis-credited in the liner notes to "Indian Love Call"
composer Rudolf Friml just so his sometime lyricist Brian Hooker(!) can get
co-credit.) "Paper Moon" is full of bounce and features fine scatting
by Manuel. Eden Ahbezs one big hit "Nature Boy" is sung faster
than Nat did it, which cuts the songs sappy sentimentality nicely. Only
the Manuel/Dagradi original "Heart to Heart" and Matt Dennis
wonderful "Angel Eyes" slow down to show that Manuel can croon almost
as well as he can bop.
Manuel digs into the emotions a bit more than some jazz singersnot for
him the ultra cool, I-cant-be-ruffled attitude. Yes, indeed, he has soul,
and I hear Sam Cooke in his voice as much as, say, Nat Cole. For example, on
"Fever," instead of Peggy Lees classically aloof delivery
(sounding like shes ready to get even with her lover, dammit), Manuel
turns up the soul right from the beginning with some elegant cat howl scatting.
Dagradi helps out by fluttering like a wounded bird in the background as Manuel
pulls off "baby, you make me hard all day long." Yow!
All of this was recorded "direct to CD" (in a manner not described)
at a live performance at the Columns Hotel in New Orleans. Whatever the method
is, it works. This is a very fine recording, with Manuels voice and the
instruments sounding full-bodied and the musical nuances well captured. There
is also an understated sense of the general acoustic of the room, though
fortunately this is not one of those live "audiophile" recordings
where the mikes are so far back you hear more crowd noise and echo than music.
("Listenright hereyou can hear someone ask for a margarita
straight up!") Turnipseed has to be counted among that small handful of
labels (including AudioQuest, Chesky, Mapleshade and CIMP) that are releasing
good new popular music that also happens to be very well-recorded.
This is a fine record than will definitely appeal to fans of jazz singers like
Mark Murphy and Kevin Mahogany. Lovers of smooth soul crooning will probably
also find something to appreciate here. And, what the heck, if you like the
alt-rock group Morphine, well, heres another vocals-sax-bass trio for
you! Glenn Brooks
Philip Manuel, vocals; Tony Dagradi, saxophones; James Singleton, bass.
Produced and recorded by Don Turnipseed.
Love for Sale Fragile Heart to Heart
Its Only a Paper Moon Fever Oneness
Nature Boy Doctor Moon Angel Eyes
Love Is Here to Stay