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January/February 2009

Joe Temperley
The Sinatra Songbook
HEP Records

Add Joe Temperley to the list of artists who have recorded worthy tributes to Sinatra, including Tony Bennett, Carol Sloane, Joe Lovano and even Biréli Lagrène (vocalizing!). Then again, with the Great American Songbook as the repertoire, how can you go wrong? Temperley’s salute comes 10 years after Sinatra’s death, and features heartfelt theme readings, passionate solos and rousing arrangements by Andy Farber and James Chirillo on the selections for octet. You can practically hear Sinatra singing along as Temperley croons the melodies on baritone and soprano sax. His sound on bari is sometimes cavernous yet tender, as on “Nancy (With the Laughing Face),” and at other times breathily insinuating like Ben Webster’s. His glowing soprano sax often evokes Sidney Bechet’s fervent edginess, especially on “Day by Day.” The two lovely miniature ballad interpretations by Temperley—the 2:49 quartet version of “In the Wee Small Hours,” and his 1:46 duet with guitarist Chirillo on “Goodbye”—say all you need to know about the leader’s appreciation of, and love for, Sinatra.

Farber’s clever, swinging arrangements of “Come Fly With Me,” “All the Way,” “I’ll Never Smile Again” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” are particularly noteworthy, capturing in their rich voicings elements of Nelson Riddle or the Count Basie Orchestra. Farber’s fine solo work on both tenor and alto (on the latter sounding very much like Benny Carter) should also be mentioned. All the other players get plenty of solo space as well, and all excel, namely trumpeter Ryan Kisor, trombonist John Allred, pianist Dan Nimmer, bassist John Webber and Chirillo. Leroy Williams’ drum work is impeccably tasteful throughout. The young Nimmer is a pianist to watch for, with an assured style on this date that exhibits flashes of Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner and Red Garland.

Originally published in January/February 2009
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