Ron Boustead – Unlikely Valentine – Art-Rock Music

Ron Boustead – Unlikely Valentine – Art-Rock Music, 43:56 ***:

A tasty treat.

(Ron Boustead – vocals; Bill Cunliffe – piano, Fender Rhodes; Hammond B-3; Mitchel Forman – piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3, accordion; John Leftwich – acoustic bass; Jake Reed – drums, percussion; Pat Kelley – acoustic & electric guitar; Bob Sheppard – saxes, flute; Bob McChesney – trombone; Ron Stout – Flugelhorn; Fabiana Passoni – vocal track 5)

Who was Ron Boustead’s Unlikely Valentine? A review of the set list from his latest release does not provide any clues. Nevertheless, Boustead’s lively vocals through both the covers and original compositions from this album will be welcomed by his devotees.

Backed by a full-throated stylish band, Boustead dives into the tunes with an uncanny reflection of singer Mark Murphy. The opening title track “Unlikely Valentine” was written by pianist Bill Cunliffe based on the chord changes of My Funny Valentine with lyrics from Ron Boustead. It is a rousing bebop styled number, with a husky vocals from the artist.

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller began their song-writing careers in Los Angeles and eventually became one of popular music’s songwriting legends. “Love Potion No. 9” was originally recorded in 1959 by The Clovers. However it became a big hit in 1964 when it was covered by The Searchers when it had a surfing beat. Boustead has taken a surprising approach to the tune with a 6/8 waltz lilt that works surprisingly well.

Versatility and flexibility seem to be watchwords that fit Boustead

exceedingly well. So whether he is offering a tongue in cheek take on “I Won’t Scat” or an up tempo vocalese version of the Johnny Mercer’s “Autumn Leaves” Boustead is quite comfortable in the musical style choices he makes.

Benny Golson’s “Along Came Betty” first appeared in 1954 on an Art Blakey album entitled Jazz Profile. The number is replete with interesting harmonics and chord changes and has been a staple in the jazz world since its introduction. Boustead’s approach  to the number is informed by Jon Hendricks’( Lambert/Hendricks & Ross) clever lyrics and has the added advantage of a slick horn arrangement by Bill Cunliffe.  Although Valentine’s Day may be over, this release is still a tasty treat.

TrackList: Unlikely Valentine; Love Potion No. 9; Coffee; I Won’t Scat; Till Now; Autumn Leaves; Love’s Carousel; Along Came Betty; I Love My Wife; Love Came On Stealthy Fingers

—Pierre Giroux

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