Jeffrey Gimble: Beyond Up High (2013)
Gimble must have impressed some very important people, with his rich vocals and smooth approach attracting some very special artists for this projectamong them, award-winning singer-songwriter Mark Winkler to produce; L.A. pianist/composer Rich Eames for some arrangements; renowned Israeli pianist Tamir Hendelman for additional arrangements and playing; and West coast saxophone great Bob Sheppard for some nice tenor spots. The repertoire is decidedly varied, covering a lot of different styles borrowing selected works from the songbooks of Oscar Brown Jr., Bill Withers and Chick Corea to Irving Berlin, Michel Legrand and Antonio Carlos Jobim. The result is an especially entertaining performance from the newest kid on the jazz block. Whether voicing sweet ballads, delivering a few choice scats or belting out a swinging song, his performance is powerful and convincing.
The successful blend of good vocals, superb instrumental support and a selection of the right material are all present here, beginning with the exuberant opener, "Sweet and Lovely," followed by Brown's blues-drenched "Hum Drum Blues" and extending throughout the album. The singer's range and reach is on display on the jubilant "High Wire / The Aerialist," also featuring Sheppard's tenor chops, along with a taste of Hendelman's unquestionable talents. "Rainy Days" and the Berlin standard "It Only Happens When I Dance With You" offer two fresh new treatments of beautiful classics. The great Brazilian icon Jobim would, no doubt, be most pleased with Gimble's rendition of his immortal "Aqua de Beber," possibly one of the finest versions aroundaided, no doubt, by Hendelman's dance on the keys, which is just as amazing.
Co-written with producer Winkler, Gimble contributes the funky and swinging "Creatures" and then turns to warmer stuff on the humble ballad "The Windmills of Your Mind." After a reprise of the Withers pop classic "Ain't No Sunshine," Gimble closes with another standard, this time a new read of the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein staple "All The Things You Are (Things About You)."
One thing that's easy to discern after just one sampling of Beyond Up High is that vocalist Jeffrey Gimble makes one heck of an entrance into the jazz world, with an impressive debut that's beyond good; it's quite frankly, terrific in style, swing and swagger.
Track Listing: Sweet and Lovely; Hum Drum Blues; High Wire/The Aerialist; Rainy Days; It Only Happens When I Dance With You; Agua de Beber; Creatures; The Windmills of Yor Mind; Ain't No Sunshine; All The Things You Are (Things About You).
Personnel: Jeffrey Gimble: vocals; Tamir Hendelman: piano; Ryan McGillicuddy: bass; Bob Sheppard: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Dean Koba: drums; Zach Harmon: drums (4-6, 10).
Record Label: Cafe Pacific Records