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Robin Nolan Trio: Boulevard of Broken Dreams

As underappreciated American vocalists go, few are more deserving of wider recognition than expatriot Randy Greer. He is a sensational artist with a voice that suggests Nat “King” Cole crossed with Ben E. King. Greer comes by his tremendous abilities honestly. His grandfather served as Duke Ellington’s drummer, and his father founded San Francisco’s fabled Soulville club. Young Randy grew up in the company of Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and several of dad’s other jazz pals. Living in Holland, Greer recently hooked up with the Robin Nolan Trio, a Djangoesque ensemble comprised of guitarist brothers Robin and Kevin Nolan and bassist/bongo player Paul Meader. The multinational foursome pooled their skills to produce Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Refined). Recorded in Amsterdam, the 15-track album percolates with the infectious joie de vivre of Europe’s most free-spirited hub. A hardy 59 minutes in length, it is a magnificent achievement. From a smoldering “Caravan” to a supercharged “Take the ‘A’ Train,” Greer and his comrades fail to hit a false note. Highlights include a sweet ‘n’ gentle “Shoo Shoo Baby” tossed off with casual glee, an achingly beautiful “The Shadow of Your Smile” and a hard-swingin’ “All of Me” that rivals Sinatra’s. Top of the list, though, is one of the most satisfyingly rich renditions of “It Don’t Mean a Thing” you’re ever likely to hear.

Originally Published