This Is Vintage Now is an ambitious music project headed by David Gasten which in David's own words tries to "bring older styles to the current time in a way that connects with current audiences but is still non-obtrusive." Sounds good to me! I for one embrace looking to the past to create the future and music is such a living creature that it should be constantly revisited and refreshed.
According to their website, the objective of their first CD is to "showcase 'bicultural' Vintage-style artists that bring the sounds of the 1940's-1960's to today without compromising the original sound." Do they deliver? The answer is both yes and no and , of course, is complicated and based on personal preference as music usually is.
On track 2 "Get On Up and Boogie", Big Jay McNeely immediately catches the listener with his question "Are you ready for some Boogie Woogie?!?" and jumps into a high energy audio assault of vocals, stride piano, guitar, bass, drums, conga drums and a pair of saxes. Like Kenney, McNeely has been making music for quite some time and helps to create the base on which the other tunes on the CD will be compared to, conscious or not. The contrast of this jump blues tune against the first really grabbed me and I started to look forward to the next tune.
The next song "Just One Dance" by Caro Emerald did not let me down and became my favorite on the compilation. The mix of jazz, torch song, and big band with dance pop is to me the essence of what This Is Vintage Now should be, a marriage of old and new in a way that supports each other. The short instrumental sax and piano jazz samples are perfectly blended behind a catchy vocal line to almost create a call and answer within the verse. The addition of a horn section over a pop band harkens back to Joe Jackson's successful crossover album Steppin' Out, however this tune is much more dance oriented.
The Pharohs song is a perfectly acceptable cover of "Tears On My Pillow" however there are some pitching issues in the vocals and sound quality issues with the recording. There is also nothing really "modern" with this rendition that leads me to believe that it will be pulling in a new audience beyond those who already appreciate Doo-wop.
Moving on, "Similau" by The Waitiki 7 is nice blend of lounge, exotica and bossa jazz, with a little bit of gypsy thrown in. This tunes definitely makes me think of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters album in that it is fleshing out a jazz idiom with native flavor. The juxtaposition of vibes, flute and violin in the different sections of the tune outline each flavor and provide quite a bit of texture in a fairly short song (3:22) for this genre. I personally would have liked the quicker middle section to have been longer to allow the soloists to explore more.
The next tune "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" is another track from the 50s by vocalist Carole Creveling. Creveling is another talented but overlooked jazz singer that has a fluid, sing-songy sound similar to a younger Anita O'Day or even Rosemary Clooney ala "Come On A My House." She is backed by a combo of piano, bass and drums and has a sound typical of most female jazz vocalists at that time. What is atypical is that she was 18 when she recorded the album that the track comes from, according to an interview.
Next in line is an interesting tune by Blake Jones & the Trike Shop called "If Hawthorne Were Foggy." The title itself is enough to warrant a listen, but the actual song is a delightful mix of ethereal wordless vocals, expressive surf guitar, talkative bass and bouts of glockenspiel. It's as if Brian Wilson and Duane Eddy decided to cover a Sean Lennon song at a circus. The lack of percussion in this song just adds to the amorphous feeling of floating through a dream, however the echo on the guitar adds a sinister sense of excitement as you half expect a zombie clown (courtesy of the glock). I love it and fits perfectly within the theme of this CD.
As I mentioned, the project is very ambitious as there are an incredible amount of genres just within the compilation's chosen eras of the 40s-60s, opening the door to thrill or disappoint listeners. Overall I was pleased with This Is Vintage Now and I would recommend it to anyone that appreciates a wide range of historical music genres, with a special affinity for swing and jazz.
For more information contact David Gasten at DavidGasten at yahoo dot com