Marcus Belgrave in the lead chair with a new CD, Tribute to New Orleans, Ray Charles and the Great Ladies of Song, well, at least a promotional CD featuring Charlie Gabriel and Joan Bow. A sampler of things to come, 23 minutes worth of classic, straight ahead jazz with an amazing sound. Teasing, taunting, and stimulating, hit after hit plays forth with a high-energy spirit that is contagious -- a joy to listen to.
Belgrave is an excellent trumpet player, a singer in the style of Louis Armstrong and a jazz master of the highest order. He has toured with Ray Charles, performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. He has recorded with McCoy Tyner, David Newman, Art Hodes, David Murray and Gerri Allen. On this session he guides the band through some classics, performed with new fresh interpretations and arrangements.
Charlie Gabriel on tenor saxophone and clarinet was born in New Orleans and is a fourth generation New Orleans jazz musician. A long time associate of Belgrave’s, playing regularly in Belgrave’s Louis Armstrong Tribute Orchestra. Gabriel has the right feel for this music and brings a joyful swinging sound to all of the songs he is featured on. The horn section arrangements, sound, tone and quality are all excellent.
Joan Bow sings in a style that at times reminds me of Etta James, at other times she has the clean smooth vocal qualities similar to a Dianne Reeves. Mix in a little Lena Horne and you have an idea of the beautiful instrument that this talented lady possesses. On the first song of the CD, "You Can’t Lose A Broken Heart," Bow sings her heart out.
On a hi-light tune of the session, "Unchain My Heart," the arrangement grabs you and shakes you. With incredible horn playing on the song and high-energy vocals this is a winner. All parties are putting out energy galore, driven by Bow who is completely in control.
This is a promotional CD. It has five songs, all classics, and they are all performed exceptionally well. All we need for a five star review is another nine or ten songs in the same spirit. The trumpet playing, the sax playing, the singing, the supporting cast (not listed in the liner notes), piano, bass and drums are all wonderful. The love of this music is transferred from the musicians to the listener and it is inspirational music. With a treasure chest of exceptional tunes to choose from I look forward to Mr. Belgrave and associates putting out a full length CD in the very near future.