Take one burnished Lou Rawls/Joe Williams-inspired baritone voice, an incredibly swinging big band that includes drummer Butch Miles and other members of the current Count Basie Band, great arrangements that provide refreshing new interpretations of old and new standards, solid soloing by members of the band and what you have is a certain formula for a swinging, finger-snapping, foot-tapping great time of listening. The new Jamie Davis CD It's A Good Thing on the Unity Music Label is 54 plus minutes of pure swinging and singing pleasure. Davis, who has sung with the Basie Band since 2000, has a voice that carries a song with drive and warmth all rolled into one. His rich baritone voice is dark and concomitantly agile as he winds his way through songs by Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart and other songwriting notables. The musicians backing Davis likewise wend their way powerfully and easily through arrangements that sound as though they are falling easily and perfectly into place as each tune unfolds.
The recording begins with a wide open, swinging Aaron Lington arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely," followed by an interesting twist on George Harrison's "Something" also arranged by Lington. Instead of a down tempo ballad approach on the song, Davis and the band take the tune much more "up" as a medium tempo swinger. Davis draws upon music of the Great American Songbook with "I've Got the World on a String," arranged by Allyn Ferguson, Tom Hart's arrangements of Cole Porter's "Night and Day," and "Besame Mucho" and a medium tempo version of a classic ballad--"My Funny Valentine"--arranged by Bob Ojeda. Davis also pays tribute to singer Joe Williams with two songs strongly affiliated with him, "Every Day I Have the Blues" and "Alright Okay You Win." Davis also demonstrates his scatting ability on a very rhythmically hip sounding Marcus Shelby arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Straight No Chaser."
Without a doubt Jamie Davis' It's A Good Thing is a GREAT thing. It has everything a lover of great swinging jazz and vocals could want: Great arrangements, consummate musicianship, clear and distinct delivery of tried and true songs, and a sound engineered by Grammy Award Winning sound engineer Woody Woodruff. Also of great interest is the companion DVD included with the CD with Davis and members of the band and production staff weighing in on the experience of this great recording project. It's A Good Thing certainly would be of great interest to fans of big band jazz and a welcome addition to any jazz CD collection.