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Friday, March 22, 2013

CD Review: Anthony Strong: Stepping Out.

Anthony Strong (voice, piano); Tom Farmer, Calum Gourlay (bass); Sebastian De Krom (drums, percussion); Matt Skelton (drums); Chris Allard (guitars); James Morrison (trumpet); Brandon Allen, Nigel Hitchcock (tenor sax) + Also string section.
(Review by Ann Alex)
I seem to have reviewed lots of CDs featuring women singers lately, so what a pleasant change to hear a CD with a male vocalist, and one who is also a skilled pianist.  This is Anthony Strong’s début CD album.  UK born Strong gives us an enjoyable mix of what the insert sheet describes as ‘jazz-pop and classic big band jazz’, but I’d say that this is honest to goodness jazz singing, perhaps with a slight leaning towards the crooning style.  Strong graduated from music college as recently as 2008, and all these tunes except one have been arranged by the singer.  Clever stuff!
We kick off with staccato piano chords for Too Darn Hot, a pleasant light-toned voice, a sax solo, then continue with witty words and fast piano for Change My WaysLuck Be a Lady is done with a lively latin rhythm, including the verse; an unexpected Kurt Weill song appears, My Ship; then a slow, romantic Stevie Wonder number, Overjoyed. The title track, Stepping Out With My Baby, is a real swinger with bell-like percussion.  Other jazz standards include My Foolish Heart; Witchcraft, and When I Fall in Love.  The album finishes with a sad song about coming to terms with the end of a relationship Learning To Unlove You.  The musicians do their stuff well, but with short solos, so  attention is very much on the singer and his piano.

The official release date is April 8, (Naive Records) and Anthony Strong will be launching the album at the Hippodrome in London on April 18.
Ann Alex.

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