Jazz CD Reviews

Alex Pangman with Special Guest Bucky Pizzarelli – Have A Little Fun – Justin Time

Mostly focused on some smartly-layered cover tunes, with a vibrato-less voice not the usual.

Published on May 20, 2013

Alex Pangman with Special Guest Bucky Pizzarelli – Have A Little Fun – Justin Time JTR 8578-2 (6/111/13). 45:12 ***:

(Alex Pangman – vocals; Bucky Pizzarelli – guitar on 1/2/5/7/9/10/11; Drew Jurecka – violin 1/2/5/7/9/10/11; Brigham Phillips – trumpet 4/6/8/12/13; Rodd Wooldridge – clarinet & tenor saxophone 4/6/8/12/13; Laurie Bower – trombone 3; Peter Hill – Piano 3/4/6/8/12/13; Jesse Barksdale – guitar 3/4/6/12/13; Chris Banks – bass 3/4/6/8/12/13; Glenn Anderson – drums 3/4; Michael Herring – bass 1/2/5/7/9/10/11; Chris Lamont – drums 6/8/12/13)

Alex Pangman is one lucky Alleycat. Born with cystic fibrosis, she received a rare but successful double-lung transplant in 2008 just at the point when she was facing a very uncertain future. Have A Little Fun is really two distinct sessions, one of which was recorded in 2010 with her regular band The Alleycats, and the other in 2012 supported by a trio that featured guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli—where both efforts reflect her renewed commitment to her music following her surgery.

Despite some soubriquets such as “Canada’s Sweetheart Of Swing” that have been tossed around about Pangman’s singing style, her voice is somewhat of an acquired taste, as she sings in a high register with little or no vibrato. It is, however, effective with the 1930s style material wherein she finds her comfort zone. The seven tracks with guitarist Pizzarelli along with violinist Drew Jurecka and bassist Michael Herring generate interesting music and Pangman’s fastidious interpretation of the compositions works particularly well on “I’m Confessin’”, “Out Of Nowhere” and “Just One More Chance”. Given that this was the first and only occasion for Pangman and Pizzarelli to work together, their rapport was evident.

The other cuts on the album are with Pangman’s band of record The Alleycats with whom she has been performing for over a decade. This larger ensemble gives Pangman’s vocals more cover and she seems more sure-footed with this band. Among the more attractive tracks is Pangman’s own composition “The Fog Song” with Laurie Bower’s trombone offering gloomy support to the lyrics. Trumpeter Brigham Phillips adds some zip to the Fats Waller tune “The Panic Is On”. It should also be noted that the band has a responsive rhythm section that keeps the band percolating along in support of Pangman’s vocal efforts. This release hasn’t produced anything out of the ordinary;  mostly focused on some smartly-layered cover tunes.

TrackList: Some Of These Days; Are You Having Any Fun; The Fog Song; The Panic Is On; I’m Confessin’; It Felt So Good To Be So Bad; Just One More Chance; Shanghai Lil; Out Of Nowhere; Stardust; Melancholy Lullaby; Topsy Turvy; Undecided; Intro: Some Of These Days

—Pierre Giroux

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