Debra Milne Jazz

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Debra's CD and Gig Reviews


Posted by gabzas331 on April 25, 2016 at 10:45 AM

Ira Hill – vocals; John Proulx – piano; Kevin Axt – bass; Dave Tull – drums; Craig Fundyga – vibes; Doug Webb – saxophones; Alex Acuna – percussion; Ramon Stagnaro – guitar; Cheryl Bentyne – vocals.

Although just 19 years old, the young American Ira Hill has immersed himself in the vocal jazz tradition of the latter half of the 20th century. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, he was mentored by Count Basie vocalist Dennis Rowland and Grammy-nominated pianist & vocalist Judy Roberts. Cheryl Bentyne, of The Manhatten Transfer, was so impressed by him at a jazz singing workshop in LA, she went on to produce Tomorrow, his debut album. Stylistically broad, the CD includes some relatively obscure material, encompassing swing, Latin, ballad & bebop, and it is disappointing that the composers are not listed (although, the reviewer had fun looking them up). ‘My Funny Valentine’ is the best known, and possibly an overused, standard. However, the spacious arrangement, with the excellent John Proulx on piano, showcases Ira’s mellifluous voice, as he gives a heartfelt, but not overdone rendition. The album features a number of bebop numbers, with Eddie Jefferson’s vocalese revisited in ‘Billie’s Bounce’ & ‘Moody’s Mood for Love’, and ‘Cloudburst’ – a recreation of the Hendricks, Lambert & Ross arrangement . The vocal acrobatics are handled assuredly, along with some pretty fine scatting. The most contemporary track is the atmospheric ‘Minuano’, a nod to Kurt Elling’s version of the Pat Metheny composition. And to finish off, Mark Murphy’s ‘You’ve Proven Your Point’. Yes he has, watch out for Ira Hill.



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