I thought I'd add this section just so you know the kind of guy that sits for hours, days on end, putting these tracks together.
I think I have great taste in music - my kind of music that is! Don't we all I hear you say! Ok, good point and point taken!
To say that my "hero" in pianistic terms is Oscar Peterson is an understatement. He is the complete pianist - gifted, incredible, a giant in true terms and the perfect role model for so many young players to look up to. I also love Gene Harris, latter day George Shearing, young guys like Benny Green & Jacky Terrasson ; Monty Alexander and Kenny Barron to name a few.
I'm a sucker for a Hammond B3 and the best exponent for me is Jimmy McGriff - not because of what he plays, but what he doesn't play and the way he doesn't play it!
I like Joey DeFrancesco ; but really who can be original on a B3 now?
You also have to check out Tony Monaco. Really pretty awesome playing with a few wee gimmicks thrown in but he can play! Tony Monaco website
Now, this is the part that will probably cause many an argument by email - I'm not a big Sinatra fan! I do like him singing, I LOVE the arrangements and the various bands and this is undoubtedly what made Sinatra the phenomenon that he was and still is. The arrangements were soooo good that really any good singer would sound awesome!
Sinatra was an excellent singer, no doubt about that - superb phrasing, great feel, sense of time and a quality voice to match. BUT I get bored listening to him. He doesn't "move" me and never has.
A singer who always moves me is JACK JONES. I just love his voice ; his feel ; everything seems just perfect to me - and I love what he does with a song. He takes chances, gets inside the lyrics, twists & turns. My favourite male vocal album has got to be his last release - A Portrait Of Tony Bennett. Singing the songs made famous by Bennett, he makes them seem fresh and HIS! This is what a singer should be to me. I also love 'technical" guys like Mel Torme (a great favourite) Mark Murphy, Kurt Elling ( who is incredible!).
Matt Monro was easily the best male Brit singer - checkout his Hoagy Carmichael album - awesome singing and fantastic arrangements to boot.
You have to check out a Kenny Rankin - I absolutely love his voice and his choice of material and he knows what he's doing.
A wonderful wonderful singer!
Favourite vocal harmony groups are The Hi-los, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Take 6 (awesome Gospel), The Singers Unlimited for their studio harmonies.
There are so many good female singers that it's really hard to narrow my list down!
Is Ella Fitzgerald top of my list?
I love Ella but she's never convinced me that she really means what she's singing. I loved her live performances and early 70's Pablo stuff because she was a lot more interesting, vocally although the quality was certainly starting to go by then.
I love Carmen McRae. I love the way she gets inside the lyrics, and really understands how to phrase a song.
Nobody does it better than Shirley Horn and she's now my favourite. To listen to her singing ballads is a joy and she swings great. She just knows exactly what to do and because she plays great piano and accompanies herself she knows where she's going and how to comp for her style. Any album is a total joy and a work of art for any singer to aspire to. She definitely didn't get the recognition she deserved but any of her peers held her in the highest esteem.
Later day Sarah Vaughan - I reckon from the late 60's right up to the 80's - is also a favourite of mine. I'm not a huge fan of Diana Krall, but she plays great piano and accompanies herself wonderfully.
I'm certainly delighted that she has achieved stardom by sticking to what she believes in although the dollar seems to be winning now though!
I'm also a fan of Natalie Cole, Irene Krall, Ernestine Anderson, British favs are Cleo Laine & Claire Martin.
You should also check out Barbara Morrison - awesome blues tinged "young"voice for such an old pro! - really wonderful!
I love a really good, tight, swinging big band and nobody did it so effortlessly as the Basie band. Even though the personnel would change the band still seemed to "breathe" as one! The Neal Heftie stuff is a favourite and the Atomic period is sublime.
Check out the Terry Gibbs Dream band recordings for incredible playing as well as great arrangements of standards. The recording quality is great for a live gig in '59!!
The Maynard Ferguson BIG BOP NOUVEAU recordings are current gems for any Big Band fan to have. Great young players with the fire and drive of an early Maynard!
Any Kenton standards recording is also a lesson in great section and solo playing ; with so many great players coming and going through the years. So many great bands and so little space!
I'm a huge Stan Getz fan. I saw him in concert, a year or two before he died, with the Kenny Barron trio and was totally in awe of the musicianship on the stage that night.
Charlie Parker is still untouchable. I have an old Verve Jam Session '52 LP ( and CD as well) with a huge array of talent on offer and Bird blows away any competition with his incredibly modern sound, feel and inventiveness.
I'm not a clarinet fan but to listen to Eddie Daniels is an eye opener. A particular favourite is the tribute to Charlie Parker CD on GRP recordings.
Other favourite musicians include the incredible James Morrison (Australia), all the great West coast guys - Bob Cooper, Bill Perkins, Russ Freeman, Shelly Manne, etc.
I love the Miles Davis/John Coltrane 50's sessions on Prestige . Wonderfully lyrical and inventive playing from Coltrane. It's hard to believe when you listen to his Impulse recordings that it's the same guy! Progress? I don't think so!
There are so many great jazz influenced soul singers to choose from and right at the very top must be George Benson. Incredible guitar playing and intuitive scat singing in unison with the guitar lines really made this guy a huge star in the 70's and 80's and during this period he had hit after hit with great songs like This Masquerade ; Turn Your Love Around and Never Give Up On A Good Thing just to name a few. Another "monster" talent is Al Jarreau although he certainly lacked the hit songs to take him to super-stardom. His biggest hit to date was the great theme from "Moonlighting" but check out the incredible singing on "Mornin'" as well.
I really love Luther Vandross - in small doses though. He was a fabulous singer but I do get a bit bored listening ; but what a great voice!
Current favourite male vocalist is Eric Benet. He was married to Halle Berry and is totally awesome - please check him out on YOU TUBE. I really love his voice and feel. Eric Benet website
The honey-smooth voice of the incredible Will Downing is also certain to melt any women's heart . He really has a voice to die for although some of the material lacks any real substance.
I really have a hard time picking my favourite Female soul artists but I have managed to narrow it down a bit!. Nobody sings better than Gladys Knight or Aretha Franklin - two incredible icons for any aspiring soul artist to focus on. The emphasis is on "soul" because this is what really matters - singing from the heart. There are many many great technical singers out there who can perform pyro-technical feats with their vocal cords but this means nothing without the "heart" that makes you want to listen to every word they sing. Oleta Adams is a great singer who writes great songs as well. I love the sound of Angie Stone's voice but I'm not to taken by the very typical R'n'B material on offer.
The daddy of them all is undoubtedly the genius that is Stevie Wonder. Incredible singer-songwriter who totally inspires me every time I listen to any of his albums. A true superstar!Talent like Stevie Wonder are god-blessed with an individuality . Another icon must surely be Ray Charles. He certainly changed the way in which black music was perceived and no one will come close to singing from the heart like he did.
I'm really glad there has been a big revival in "swing" music - I hate when quality music has to be put into a category ,but if it helps to revive these great songs then who am I to disagree.
The current crop of young male vocalists is quite a mixed bag - some good and some not so good. A low point must surely be when WESTLIFE jumped on the band wagon trying to sing the punter pleasing standards. They might be ok at MOR pop ballads but can't swing for peanuts!
And - because it's back in vogue every young club and cabaret singer thinks they can sing this style of music and really havn't a clue where to start - especially when you see them clicking on the 1 and 3! Not a good start!
I must confess that Michael Buble has a GREAT voice although some of the material is digging the bottom of the pile to sell CD's. If you're not a jazz fan you'll love him; but long may it continue if it brings standards and great songs back!
Jamie Cullum is a great fresh talent who's not scared to stretch out and put his own stamp on old and new songs.
I've seen Curtis Stigers live three times and he blows all the new crop away! Here's a guy who's first love was jazz and has always written classy pop songs - remember "I Wonder Why" and "YOU'RE ALL THAT MATTERS TO ME"? Made a lot of money and returned to what he loves best and he does it soo well! His voice might not be everyone's cup of tea but he can sing - fabulous pitching and wonderful FEEL - he swings! Try and get a hold of any of his CD's on the Concord label. He played in my home town - AYR - in our small theatre; 2 years running. The last time the concert was half full! Crazy world!
A dark horse to look out for is definitely Peter Cincotti. I have a few of his Concord albums and he plays great and sings well but it's his last album - East Of Angel Town - that really made me listen. GREAT adult original pop songs and he sings better on this than on the jazz stuff. Very impressed! Peter Cincotti website
I'm also a huge fan of Harry Connick Jr - his bands and arrangements are always incredibly tasteful and inventive. I LOVE his "Come By Me" CD. Great original songs but my favourite track has to be the arrangement of "Charade" - awesome! Check out the "Songs I Heard" album as well. The "ONLY YOU" and "YOUR SONGS" albums have some great songs and lovely inventive arrangements.