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IRA HILL

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IRA HILL MUSIC 001

 

 

  1. Afro Blue [3:37]

  2. Iíll Remember April [4:41]

  3. Minuano [6:39]

  4. Estate [6:23]

  5. Cloudburst [2:28]

  6. Tomorrowís Another Day [4:29]

  7. My Funny Valentine [6:16]

  8. Billieís Bounce [4:04]

  9. Moodyís Mood for Love [3:43]

  10. Youíve Proven Your Point [3:33]


TOTAL PLAYING TIME : [46:03]

Musicians:

Ira Hill (vocals)

John Proulx (piano)

Kevin Axt (bass)

Dave Tull (drums)

Craig Fundyga (vibes)

Doug Webb (saxophone)

Alex Acuna (percussion)

Ramon Stagnaro (guitar)

Cheryl Bentyne (vocals)


Ira Hill is a young jazz vocalist from Phoenix Arizona, and this is his first album. He is accompanied by a talented group of Los Angeles session musicians, including Cheryl Bentyne, well-known vocalist with the jazz quartet Manhattan Transfer. The set opens with Mongo Santamariaís 1959 classic African- rhythm Afro Blue, featuring Hillís vocals and the amazing percussionist Alex Acuna and vibraphonist Craig Fundyga in a great arrangement. Hill demonstrates his smooth tenor singing range and adds in a bit of scat. Other up-tempo arrangements include Gene de Paulís famous composition Iíll Remember April, with fine solos by pianist John Proulx and Doug Webb on saxophone, and Ronnie Williamsí interesting composition Cloudburst, a singerís showcase tune for demonstrating velocity and versatility. While not as fast as the Pointer Sisters warp-speed version, Hillís duet with Cheryl Bentyne is a nice number that sounds much like a Manhattan Transfer arrangement. Bassist Kevin Axt provides some imaginative solos on a lively version of Charlie Parkerís 1945 bebop composition Billieís Bounce, and Hill demonstrates a considerable talent for getting up and down the scale quickly.

There are also some weak moments on this disc. Hillís voice tends to lose strength on some numbers, which may be caused by the arrangements. A portion of Minuano is in the low end of his range, and the vocal quality drops off. Interestingly, in the slower-paced Estate the drop-off is not as noticeable in the lower range, but the vocals still lack vitality. A ponderous six minute version of My Funny Valentine drags too long and loses interest. Valentine has been done so many times that there isnít much new that can be done with it. One possibility might be a Rodgers-Hart medley, fitting a verse of Valentine between two of Rodgers and Hartís more upbeat standards. Ira Hillís medley with The Most Beautiful Girl in the World and Have You Met Miss Jones might just sound terrific.

The liner notes are limited to disc covers, with a short introduction by jazz journalist Tyran Grillo, and personal notes by Ira Hill. This disc was recorded in Los Angeles in 2015 and produced by Cheryl Bentyne. No other production notes were available.

Bruce McCollum



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