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January/February 2009

Marcus Goldhaber
Take Me Anywhere
Fallen Apple

There’s no denying that Marcus Goldhaber sounds remarkably similar to Chet Baker. Astute listeners will, however, note a subtle but vitally important difference: Baker’s voice had a spectral quality, suggesting an otherworldly detachment from the physical realm. Goldhaber’s voice, though skinny and sometimes ghostly pale, has more meat on its bones, and remains grounded in reality. Where Baker was the quintessence of cool, Goldhaber is pleasantly lukewarm. The results, at least when Goldhaber sticks to standards, are eminently enjoyable, if lacking Baker’s wraithlike fogginess.

Indeed, Take Me Anywhere, Goldhaber’s second release in as many years, may be the perfect album for the iTunes generation. It is comprised of 10 Tin Pan Alley classics, all built around resolutely professional (and, as on a tranquil, satin-lined “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” and a cunningly lopsided “With Plenty of Money and You,” often wonderfully imaginative) arrangements by Goldhaber and pianist Jon Davis, and all featuring Davis’ intuitive trio, with Martin Wind on bass and Marcello Pellitteri on drums and percussion. Rounding out the playlist are seven new songs co-written by Goldhaber and Davis. One—the fevered “I Fall Apart,” on which Goldhaber departs Baker’s realm to invade John Pizzarelli territory—is terrific.

The others range from overly derivative (it’s impossible, for instance, not to hear echoes of “The Winter of My Discontent” in their rather inscrutable “In the Oeuvre of the In-Between,” and “She Knows” sounds like a lesser Paul Simon effort) to plainly unimaginative (“You’re Beautiful, You Know That,” “A Walk”). So, best to download the 10 covers and one strong original, and leave the rest in music’s cyberspace graveyard.

Originally published in January/February 2009
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