CD REVIEW: Bob McCarroll - Now And Then
By Dan Cohen - 04/13/2012 - 01:56 PM EDT
Artist: Bob McCarroll
Album: NOW AND THEN
Sounds Like: Mel Torme, John Pizzarelli
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Who Cares, Just You Just Me,
One thing about Bob McCarroll-- the man's got taste. First tune off Now and Then, his sweet and tuneful new album is the gem 'Out of Nowhere', a gorgeous, classic, but somewhat less well known tune by Johnny Green with lyrics by Ed Heyman, (the same team behind Body and Soul- tough competition!). He's not a great singer, but a very musical one, and acquits himself admirably on the number before a stand-out version of Just You, Just Me, one of those songs that you may not recognize by title but if I hummed a few bars, you'd go 'oh yeah...' It's kind of the ultimate sophisticated 20s song, and McCarroll sings it with just the right urbane touch.
That's followed seamlessly by 'Oh Dear, Poor Little You', an original tune in the style of the others but with the requisite insouciance and attitude to make it work. So often when people write originals in this vein they're carbon copies of some familiar tune, with a lyric that just lays there. Here McCarroll wraps a rather vengeful lyric around a breezy, tossed off, interestingly meandering melody. What starts as an apparently breezy tribute to an ex (you got so high/nearly touched the sky/baby you were quite the star) soon reveals a darker side in the chorus (oh dear, what will you do/look how you've fallen/poor little you) and delivering the coup de grace at the end of the bridge (you've got no one to blame but yourself) before launching into a light-hearted set of solos. Kick em while they're down, Bob!
Who Cares is another original, but in an entirely other vein-- a lovely duet with the talented Jodi Light, a ballad, deeply sincere, with a beautiful, slowly unfolding arrangement featuring the gorgeous guitar work of Paul Lucas. It's hard to pull off a tune that's this slow, and it's just beautiful all around. The presence of Jody seems to raise Bob's vocal game a bit. The playing is stellar throughout, as a matter of fact, with lovely sensitive playing from rhythm section of Dwight Kilian on Bass and Dom Moio on drums. Arrangements (by either McCarroll alone or with the help of Jerry Donato) are lovely and unfussy, with Armand Boatman's piano and Matt William's vibes offering particularly sweet, casually elegant support.
I get hundreds of records each year that are content to simply repeat the reliable tropes of the old chestnuts of the Great American Songbook. Nothing wrong with that. that's why they're classics. Now and Again does that, sure, but adds its own chestnuts to the mix. And what's more, Bob makes it look easy. And that, my friends, is not easy. Who knew Tempe, Arizona was a hotbed of cool jazz? Bravo to Bob and his crew on a sweet, unique, very playable record. Put it on at your next cocktail party, and watch the conversation sparkle. Just like Now and Then. A sparkly cocktail of listening pleasure.
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