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Paul Broadnax: Here’s to Joe

Few singers have the temerity, experience, equipment, and duende to pay solid tribute to the dean of jazz vocalists. I’m talking about none other than Joseph Goreed of Cordele, Georgia, widely known as Joe Williams. Paul Broadnax is one of those very few. Mr. Broadnax-a singer of considerable finesse and elegance, a solid pianist, and one of New England’s only recently unveiled secrets-certainly has the equipment (a resonant yet honeyed bass/baritone), the good taste and the patina of experience. He has chosen to showcase the tender side of Mr. Williams, with a set comprised of far more ballads (seven, including “A Little At A Time” as a sultry samba, the gorgeous “Imagination,” “Darn That Dream” and “Here’s To My Lady”) than blues (just “Hurry On Down To My House” and “The Comeback”).

Overall, the set excels in suavity, but is short on grit. That is Mr. Broadnax’s call, and, as he does justice to many neglected gems over Williams’ distinguished career, it deserves respect. Moreover, it is thus a tribute to the Joe Williams living, breathing, beautifully singing today, not the Joe Williams of our memories.

Originally Published