I gave up on resolutions for the New Year and decaf coffee years ago. My hope for 2013 was to make a more concerted effort to spotlight Independent artists that seemingly toil away in quiet anonymity while making great music so I decided to add my own riff thanks to my experience working at American Idol on season 8. I have been incredibly fortunate to have a great many talented artists reach out to me for review but perhaps none as impressive as the debut release The Procrastinator from Dorian Devins which actually hit the streets late last summer proving my point all too well. Great music may be right around the corner, you just have to look. Thankfully Dorian reached out to me and a few days later I received a copy of what for me may well be one of the finest releases in an overly crowded field of female singers that should not be thinking any further than the church choir or karaoke night. I hold Independent artists to a higher standard, the same standard I am held to as an Independent writer. Life is not fair.
The Proscratinator salutes the timeless tunes of Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham and of course the amazing Wayne Shorter. What makes The Procrastinator work is the innate ability of Devins to not only embrace some of the finest of "old school" jazz but to arrange and even contribute lyrics to some tunes where her vocal artistry transcends the traditional singer mode and moves more to a blending of melody and harmonic invention as part of the band. In short, Devins makes old school turn new cool in the spirit of a Chet Baker without the pretentiousness and vocal pyrotechnics the average listener is bombarded with today.
"Let's Get Lost" opens the release with a stellar arrangement by Devins and a band that can swing hard with a long lost elegance of a simply melody. As an arranger, Devins can reharm a tune as well as anyone while never losing sight of the melodic path or deconstructing the tune to the point that it is virtually beyond recognition. Pianist Lou Rainone also does some money arrangements and everyone seems on the same page here. Too many vocalists don't sing with a band but around them as though they were an after thought, but not on this release. Back to the opening tune, Richie Vitale lays down a righteous solo along with pianist Lou Rainone. Karl Kaminski on bass and Steve Johns on drums keep the groove on the straight and narrow. Swing hard or go home. "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" is the iconic Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne tune that Devins and pianist Rainone turn into an intimate and expressive ballad that highlights the crystal clear vocals of Devins who has just a slight smoky finish that works hand in glove with the set list. The title track "The Procrastinator" is given lyrics thanks to the prolific triple threat jazz option that is straight from the Devins wheelhouse. "The Procrastinator" is the Lee Morgan tune that is the inspiration for this gem and while I would initially discourage any artist from a debut recording with a plethora of standards, when you combine the vocals of Devins and the synergy of the band then you have a righteous if not rare release in virtually every sense of the word.
Being a critic is far more than being critical but I simply have no criticism to make here.
Old school vocal jazz is alive and well and hanging out in the Big Apple...and her name is Dorian Devins.
Tracks: Let's Get Lost; Momentum; La Mesha; I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry; Better Than Anything; The Procrastinator; Speak Low; Night Bird; Lament For Stacy; Dreamer; Soft Touch; Time Was.
Personnel: Dorian Devins: vocals, co-producer, arrangements; Richie Vitale: trumpet, flugelhorn; Peter Brainin: tenor & soprano saxophone, flute; Lou Rainone: piano, arrangements; Karl Kaminski: bass; Steve Johns: drums.
Preview the release: