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I bought this album because the Empirical debut album was so good and Jay Phelp's Trumpet was a big part of that sound. On occasions in this album you can hear that and there is some great music here - but you have to search around for it!
The vocals, whenever they appear are just embarassing - truly cringe-inducing. I felt as if they were a mistake on every level and a big part of why I can only give this album 3 stars. So the actual lyrical content is quite banal and there are far better scat singers out there.
The second part for me is the sound of some of the tracks - it seems like they have gone for a retro feel and in places this just sounds wrong - so you have a clear, modern recording - but there are muffled parts and it neither feels like one thing or the other. A small detail maybe is that the Double Bass is at times very poorly recorded - it sounds horrible - all springy, noisy elements of the sound and no bassy depth! It sounds like it was plucked with fingernails at some points?
There is great musicianship in here and especially when Jean Toussaint and Dennis Rollins join the ensemble, everything goes up a notch and we truly have the best of British Jazz!
So my complaint must be about the judgement of those involved - some strange decisions have been made here? As a clue to this, the liner notes of the CD seem to have a very patronising tone - as if telling us mere "fans" what Jazz is really about? I'm sure most Jazz fans know the history of the music and don't need to be reminded that it's based on dance music or what "walking" actually means in this context!
It's like the listener is being lectured on what "real Jazz" is about - surely we should be allowed to make up our own minds and vote with our ears?Read more ›
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I first came across Jay Phelps playing for a band called 'Skatronics'as I'm a massive reggae lover, this is the music genre I was raised on having a Jamaican family. After a friend told me he is a Jazz musician I decided to check him out more and more catching him playing live at a couple of regular spots around London.
As someone who has now gotten into Jazz, Jay Phelp's live performance is astounding; from his and his bands level of musicianship, to the warm presence he brings to the audience. However his CD is what's to be reviewed...
I purchased this CD having to realise; it won't be the same as hearing him live. After constant rotation on my iPhone, I have to say it is great to listen to on a commute and great to relax to. Out of the 9 tracks, I have highly rated 6 of them, not saying the others are rubbish.
The first track on the album is the unique 'Jay Walkin', which after hearing a couple of times is a favourite tune to whistle. 'Out of The Blue' is by far a real favourite, out of the blue comes the instruction from Scat Singer Mike Mwenso "get happy", throwing you right into this song. Another familiar name that most have brought up when seeing Jay play, this guys scatting is so cool. I was lucky enough to be at a late jazz night in E. London, and he was there with the renowned Cleveland Watkiss both using their instruments to the fullest. I have to say, as a player of the vocal chords scatting, Mike Mwenso brings a new dimension when compared to Cleveland (no disrespect brother). Mike's vocals love to swim in the highs of vocal range and the highs of feeling, uplifting with a good dollop of perseverance.
Another firm favourite is 'I Love My Mama', obviously a track dedicated to his mother...Read more ›