What do I remember most about Byron Motley's album Jazz and Cocktails? Not the sweet, rhythmic tone of his unique voice. Not the GREAT selection of songs. Not even the stellar musical performances that come from it. I remember the sincerity in his voice.
I remember that what I love about jazz music is what he conveys in every song he sings. He remembers the roots of his musical craft. He hearkens back to the golden days of not only jazz, but of singing. When crooners weren't in it for the money or the number one records. They were in it for the passion, for the joy of pure vocal perfection. Motley has mastered this on Jazz & Cocktails.
Motley's album is a fantastic recording. "June Night and I Wish I Knew's" vocal delicateness make you long for a glass of Merlot and a baby grand to gather round. To contrast, swing era big bands couldn't have done better than Motley's "I Ain't Got The Gal" and "Big City," which are very uptempo and stylish. It was as though Henry Mancini had Byron in mind when he wrote "Dear Heart" and Byron's breathless vocals, along with Corky Hale's lovely harp, add a romantic vulnerability to an already great song. Add these to classics like "Lush Life" and "Alfie," and you've got one whale of a listening experience.
Byron Motley has one of the greatest, most unique voices of modern jazz and this album is masterful. Jazz & Cocktails should be listened to, better yet experienced over and over again. I promise you'll find something new to love each time.