Swing Central CD For The Love of It CDs discography Syracuse NY
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Swing Central CD For The Love Of It Swing Central - For The Love Of It
CD $11.99
(1998, 46 min.) Swing Central - For The Love Of It
Produced by Todd Hobin.
Tracks -
01 Come Rain Or Come Shine 07 Roger's Idea
02 Our Love Is Here To Stay 08 Gift of Gab
03 Aqua de Beber 09 Fever
04 American Eyes 10 Green Dolphin Street
05 Open Invitation 11 Everybody's Boppin'
06 Baroque Samba  

Swing Central

Central New York's premiere jazz vocal septet, Swing Central--four voices and an all-pro rhythm section--follow in the footsteps of similar combos which stretch the limits of vocal creativity: Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Manhattan Transfer and especially the Ithaca College-bred quartet, New York Voices, who performed in tandem with the Count Basie Orchestra at the 1998 M and T Bank Syracuse Jazz Fest.

 Swing Central's debut disc, For the Love of It clearly demonstrates the septet's debt to New York Voices, as three of the 11 tracks were composed or arranged by the ex-Ithacans.

 When the four SC voices interweave, as they do so smoothly on George Gerswhin's "Our Love is Here to Stay", arranged by New York Voices leader Darmon Meader, the harmonies flow like a satin in the breeze. Then, on the same track, when they belt the bridge ("The Rockies may crumble/ Gibraltar may tumble/ They're only made of clay./ Our love is here to stay") the staccato treatment really stops listeners cold, and rhythmically sets the scene for the outpouring of Gershwin's melodic verses. Carol Bryant's silky soprano never sounds forced, neither in this tune nor elsewhere on the album. There's none of that hissing, trembling treble you hear in some high registers, just Bryant's natural, bell-tone.

 Bryant's alto-voiced female counterpart in Swing Central, Carrie Pardee takes the lead on "Open Invitation," a composition by Meader and his New York Voices colleague Lauren Kinhan. Pardee's lower tones ably complement Bryant's higher achievements, while drummer Dave Hanlon and singer-percussionist Steve Orlando Jr. embellish the "Invitation" with a pleasant array of chimes, bongoes and tom-toms. Tenor Fred Johnson's "vocal horn solo" cleverly conjures up an imaginary instrument somewhere between a trumpet and trombone.

 The versatility of vocal arrangements is clearly illustrated by another Meader tune, "Baroque Samba," which begins hauntingly, almost as a round, as the different voices enter the mix one after another, eventually overlapping. The deceivingly simple arrangement incorporates a hint of Gregorian chant as the a cappella intro gives way to a Hanlon drum roll and Bill DiCosimo's keyboard comping. DiCosimo also contributes an impressive solo on the "Samba," displaying speed, agility and a solid grasp of the polyrhythmic progression. Hanlon's trap set solo likewise fetches, with its varied, always swinging approach, as it leads up to the big vocal climax: "Ba ba ba da ba ba da...B-OW!"
For an upstate New York band, Swing Central displays an amazing affinity for the syncopated sounds from south of the border. Another samba, Antonia Carlos Jobim's "Aqua de Beber," stands out as one of the album's many highlights. And you'll swear it's a wind instrument and not a sample when DiCosimo fingers the synthesized flute solo.

 Although Swing Central clearly exists to showcase vocal jazz, keyboardist-composer DiCosimo (a longtime member of Dave Hanlon's Cookbook) nearly steals the show on this disc. His original song, "Gift of Gab," seems to have been written specifically for the Swing Central singers. Its second line intro is followed by the voices laying down the head, before the precision rhythm section takes over, leading to a full-bodied bass line plucked by Syracuse Symphony Orchestra veteran Darryl Pugh. Orlando shares the lead vocal chore with Bryant before he breaks into a simply sinewy scat.

 DiCosimo also turns in a swift-chorded acoustic piano break on a Sharon Bradley arrangement of Ned Washington and Bronislav Kaper's "Green Dolphin Street." Oddly, this number starts out in 7/8 time, before segueing to a less unusual 4/4 swing.

 The vocals remain center stage throughout this record, of course, but Swing Central isn't shy about shining the spotlight on its talented instrumentalists, including guest guitarist Mark Copani on "American Eyes," a minor key blues by West Coast composer Todd Buffa. An apparent indictment of the Ugly American "me-me-me" syndrome, Buffa's tune displays a decidedly noir edge. Fred Johnson's somewhat menacing lead vocal is echoed by Pardee before Orlando and Bryant jointly deliver the third verse, and by now the nastiness is practically palpable. Copani then picks a delicious Steely Dan-ish electric guitar lead, much rockier than what he plays with his own instrumental jazz band, Eye Level.

 Later, the vocalists cackle Buffa's lyrics like a gaslighted Greek chorus: "Don't look at me with surprise./ I'm just laughin' cuz I don't wanta cry./ It's the writing on the wall/ and we see it go by/ as we watch through American Eyes."

For the Love Of It incorporates a wide array of jazz, from an unusually upbeat, re-harmonized version of Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen's "Come Rain or Come Shine," to the humorous "Roger's Idea (Benny's from Heaven)," to Bryant's smoky, low-register reading of "Fever," accompanied only by Pugh's upright bass and vocal percussion lines care of Johnson and Orlando.

 As though paying a final, fervent homage to its jazz ancestors, Swing Central acknowledges the influence of Fifties vocalese pioneers Lambert, Hendricks and Ross with the disc's double-time closer, a righteous rendition of Hendricks' "Everybody's Boppin.'"

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