Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tine Bruhn & Johnny O'Neal Nearness BR 2012

Please do not click on the photo below it is the album cover and not a link other than to my review.

Is it possible to fall in love with a voice? Critics are no more than listeners with the ability to hopefully string together a coherent sentence or two while offering a helpful perspective on an artist release. Tine Bruhn & Johnny O'Neal on piano along with Stacy Dillard on tenor sax take an eclectic mix of ballads and make them their own. Bruhn's vocals are spot on and one of the handful of artists that make the transition from singer to vocal artist with relative ease. The harmonic progressions of O'Neal fills in the gray areas for what is truly a complete ensemble. My only possible complaint could be tenor phenom Stacy Dillard only appearing on 4 tracks, of course playing tenor myself hopefully the critical remark is understandable. :30 seconds into the second tune "But Beautiful" I found myself searching for my 5 Star graphic to tag the review with. Real, raw, and righteous finds this organic if not slightly eclectic vocal artist taking the harmonic road less traveled.

Bruhn absolutely crushes "Easy To Love" and "The Nearness Of You." The last tune on the recording is the Mercer/Carmichael tune "Skylark" which Bruhn slays with the help of pianist Johnny O'Neal. ( This also happens to be my favorite tune so no pressure...)Organic and straight from the heart, this is "last call" jazz you would hear in some of the finest jazz venues in New York. Bruhn's tone and phrasing alone are a reharm that arrangers dream of. O'Neal is pure flavor and as he has been referred to, "one of the best kept secrets in jazz." Stacy Dillard is an up and coming tenor player that makes this critic accept the best place for his own tenor may be on the wall of a TGI Fridays.

The field in female vocal jazz is overly crowed. Organic vocal artists rule the day or to phrase it another way, old school can become new cool in the right hands.

A release of standards can go one of two ways with either a pretentious crash and burn attitude of those best served singing in the church choir or they can take the higher road with a vocal artist that has that innate ability to touch some place deeper inside you then your soul which is the wheelhouse Tine Bruhn works from. 

I can actually give this release 15 stars with five extra stars taken out of petty cash for the literally perfect performances of Johnny O'Neal and Stacy Dillard. Simply amazing. When a critic gets the opportunity to review something that comes from his own wheelhouse then the day just got that much better!

I'll Be Seeing You; But Beautiful; Easy To Love; The Nearness Of You; If I Should Lose You; My Foolish Heart; Just In Time; Never Let Me Go.

Personnel: Tine Bruhn: vocals; Johnny O'Neal; piano; Stacy Dillard: tenor sax (2,4,5,7).

Special Thanks to Michael Bloom of Michael Bloom Media Relations