Kevin Axt, Bass; Jack Sheldon, Trumpet and vocals; Grant Geissman,
Guitar; many others – Telarc CD-83606, 49 min. *****:
Cheryl Bentyne is most well-known as one-quarter of the multi-Grammy
award-winning supergroup, Manhattan Transfer. And while it so often
seems that when a member of a really stellar ensemble steps out on
their own, it only proves the old adage “the sum is greater than the
parts,” nothing here could be further from the truth. This truly superb
disc is easily on my short list of the years’ best, and proves that the
talented Ms. Bentyne is indeed a bona fide solo act. “Let Me Off
Uptown” is a tribute to legendary jazz singer Anita O’Day, and covers
an excellent cross-section of songs that were either her signature
tunes or helped form the cornerstone of her repertory.
The song selection here is first-rate, and you don’t have to wait too
long in between songs to reach the next of many highlights – there
isn’t a bad tune on this disc! The arrangements are superb, and nothing
here seems tired or too-often trodden in this dazzling mix of ballads,
blues and really swinging uptempo numbers. Ms. Bentyne and her
excellent cast of supporting players breathe new life into chestnuts
such as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Pick Yourself Up” and “Skylark” (listen
for some truly inspired keyboard work from Corey Allen here).
Less-often-played gems such as “Man With a Horn” and “Waiter, Make Mine
Blues” are absolute ear candy – I’ve lost track how many times I’ve
listened to this outstanding disc over the last month or so.
For Red Book CD, the sound quality is first-rate – and while a disc
this good blurs the line between itself and SACD quality, I have to
admit – I’m a little disappointed that it’s not on Telarc’s SACD
upcoming release list. Oh, well – I can’t really complain with a disc
this great! Five Stars – this disc is a must-have for all fans of jazz
vocals or standards. Very, very highly recommended!
Tracks: Let Me Off Uptown; Pick Yourself Up; Honeysuckle Rose; Skylark;
Let’s Face the Music and Dance; Man With a Horn; Boogie Blues; It
Shouldn’t Happen to a Dream; Whisper Not; Tea for Two; Little Girl
Blue; I Won’t Dance; Waiter, Make Mine Blues.
— Tom Gibbs