Kevin Mahoganys latest CD (and Telarc debut) came as both a welcome addition and something of a surprise. It was welcome because Mahogany is one of the few seriously talented young male jazz singers we have these days; the surprise was the recording itself. Pride & Joy, you see, is not, strictly speaking, a jazz album -- its Mahogany's homage to and re-thinking of classic Motown hits.
Im certainly not so self-righteous as to attempt to dictate the material a given artist should record. Not at all! Its just that this album caught me completely off guard. I simply didn't expect to hear such non-jazz material from one of the most talented jazz singers on the scene today. Ive always considered Mahogany to be heir apparent to such legends as Jimmy Rushing, Joe Williams and Johnny Hartman, not Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye.
That said, Mahoganys vocal prowess shines through on this CD, and, since most of the songs he covers are very well known, one has the opportunity to concentrate on his singing style itself. Some of the songs, such as "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Im Yours," "Reach Out, Ill Be There," "Never Can Say Goodbye," and "Neither One Of Us (Wants To Say Goodbye)" are pop standards. Mahoganys deep, powerful voice ranges far and wide over this material, giving new insights into the familiar. For instance, his scatting introduction to "I Cant Get Next To You" transform that pop music staple into a jazz song. Two songs are performed a cappella ("Signed, Sealed " and "Reach Out"), again bringing a new perspective to familiar tunes.
Once again Telarc has graced Pride & Joy with its usual superb sound. It's another DSD recording and that usually means first-rate sonics. Pride & Joy wont end that successful run. The label surrounded Mahogany with only a handful of musicians and then captured the unique sonic signature of each instrument while creating room for Mahoganys voice to dominate the proceedings (as it should). The recording suggests the size of the singer himself and his mastery of his vocal instrument.
Pride & Joy took me a while to get used to. It wasnt what I expected from Kevin Mahogany and, in many ways, that's to his credit. Pride & Joy is Mahoganys attempt to expand his repertoire and add to his already immense talent and reputation. I look forward to Mahoganys next album, combining a return to his jazz roots with Telarcs trademark sonic excellence.
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