Publisher Profile

Cafe Society by Don Gomes

WCD-04010

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Tracks:
1. The Masquerade is Over
2. One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)
3. Why Did I Choose You
4. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
5. Everything Happens to Me
6. Imagination
7. Blame it on My Youth
8. You Don’t Know What Love is
9. How Insensitive (Insensatez)
10. The Very Thought of You
11. We’ll Be Together Again

Memorable male jazz singers are few, and I had not yet encountered a contemporary male jazz singer that I would return to for a second listen. It would seem that the norm of jazz is female singers and male instrumentalists. Don Gomes is now the exception. Singing at the piano, Don is accompanied by guitarist Fred Grigson, saxophonist Simon Styles, drummist Ric Eastman and bassist Paul Pooley.

Gomes’ spotless vocal texture is a rarity among today’s jazz singers, and his relaxing utterances are most conducive towards the light-hearted singing. The highly expressive lyrics are nearly a déjà vu of the days of the old-time bandstand, jazz era that Barry Manilow conjured up so memorably in the 80s. But why did Gomes have to pronounce Berkeley as “Barclay”?

Like what Don wrote in the inner pages of the fold-out CD case: “This is my respite from the chaotic world of instant-everything and throw-away-nothings!” I like his voice, particularly the lightness and purity.

In the inner pages, Don wrote that his ensemble was a true democracy. Thankfully, this democracy was consisted of men sharing a common vision of courtesy and order. Almost all tracks are interjected with songs of varying tempos and moods, so as to impart excitement and freshness. All songs are moderate in tempo and easy on mood, and rely on Don’s vocalization amidst the fresh-playing of the crew to utter thoughts that quickly take center stage.

Throughout the entire CD, Don’s singing brings, even oh-so faintly, momentum to the foreground, insomuch that the effect become profoundly contagious. Thank goodness no one ever came across as trying to stand out, hence everyone gets to stand out eventually when the listener is enticed to come back for repeated discoveries, and as the listener wanders alongside the expertly playing, Don’s rendition of Jobim’s “How Insensitive” is as classic in implementation as saxophonist Scott Hamilton’s version from the Concord label over two decades ago.

This CD’s sound quality is consistently top notch, possessing smooth texturing and well-proportioned instrument scaling. Via the $40k Audio Note AN-E SEC Signature, there is fullness and spontaneity. One can only imagine how it will sound like in the Genesis sound room, and I can imagine just how beautifully the nicely recorded jazz ensemble would sound like via a pair of the Genesis 201’s. This is not a major audiophile label’s crown production, but what a delightful surprise it is.

I still find good male jazz singers few and far in between, but one listen to Café Society and you’ll likely find the thought of a pure instrumental version of this CD an abomination.

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