CD Review: David Basse w/Phil Woods and Mike Melvoin “Uptown”

It was more about the swing than the bling in KC.

On the riverboat trip up the Mississippi River, on it’s way to Chicago and then on to New York, where it would get some sophistication in its strut, jazz took a left at St. Louis. Wound up in the frontier town of Kansas City where it decided that hangin’ out with the blues on 12th Street and Vine was better than a gig on 52nd Avenue. Where Sinatra sang jazz in New York in a tux, and in Chicago they kept there jacket on, in Kansas City they rolled up their sleeves. In New York it was Oysters Rockefeller, in Kansas City, it barbeque. It was more about the swing than the bling in KC. In Kansas City, the music felt like it made it off the farm, but just for the night. KC jazz was always blue collar, not stuff shirt and David Basse personifies that.

With a delivery that it is more Mel Torme than Tony Bennett, has a pinch of Jon Hendricks and a splash of Al Jarreau. Basse delivers some very fun jazz with a nod to it’s roots in the south. There’s something of the New Orleans ‘professors’ in it’s mojo. There’s a twist in the phrasing that is southern fried, not haute cuisine. The tunes feel like they came out of the great American song book, and should be standards, should be Tin Pan Alley bred, but most of what you’ll hear here are written by pianist Mike Melvoin, producer Mark Winkler and Frank Smith mixed in with standards indeed, but delivered in a way that makes them his.

David Basse “52nd & Broadway”David Basse’s resonant voice is a signature of KCs swinging jazz and blues scene. In August of 1982, David Basse was invited to play a gig at the legendary City Light Restaurant, little did he know that this one night stand would turn into a seven year gig and change his life. On March 30th, 1984 the City Light Orchestra released "Raised Spirits", their first recording, to a packed house at Kansas City's Folly Theater. Tens of thousands of copies of this album were sold and that year Esquire Magazine named City Light Restaurant one of the top 100 clubs in the United States. Twenty-Five years later, remaining members of the original band continue to perform regularly in Kansas City. It has been said that the City Light Orchestra played music "learned at (Count) Basie's elbow and other joints," this swingin' tradition jams on and David Basse makes sure of that.

The Dirty Lowdown

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Robert Carraher