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Monday, January 07, 2019

CD Review: Blue Standard - A Good Thing

Raoul Bhaneja (vocals, harmonica); Jesse Whiteley (piano)
(Review by Ann Alex)

This CD does what it says on the tin and does it well. The proverbial tin says that this is a debut album which was recorded ‘live off the floor with no overdubs’ at Canterbury Music Company in Toronto. Twelve standards, some unfamiliar, chosen because  Blue Standard felt inspired by takes of these songs done by famous names such as Nat King Cole and Chet Baker. Raoul Bhaneja is an actor who sings blues, as well as jazz and Jesse Whiteley, is well known on the Canadian music scene as he comes from a family of musicians involved in roots music, and he has performed with the likes of Clark Terry and Cleo Laine.

We get classic songs done in a stripped down and intimate manner, which especially brings out the meaning of the lyrics, short effective piano solos, and no scat, which I liked, as I believe this should be used only when strictly appropriate. So A Good Thing is full of wry humour as the singer says that he’s glad he didn’t meet his partner when he was wilder in his youth. The well known L.O.V.E. is a chance for the piano to make its mark with a neat key change. A Man Ain’t Supposed To Cry is blues-influenced with a sly piano reference to Cry Me A River and When I Fall In Love is suitably sensitive. Walkin’ My Baby Back Home and When Did You Leave Heaven? are flirtatious, not just the singer, but the piano somehow as well! The other tracks are It’s Always You; You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You; Here’s To Life; It’s A Wonderful World; Teach me Tonight, ending with a lively Crazy Rhythm on which our singer branches out to play a lively harmonica.

I have only one niggling criticism which s that a couple of songs end on a long, loud, strong, high, note, what I call an X-factor ending, (many songs on that television programme end like this) but it’s just a small niggle, and I enjoyed listening to this CD.
The album is available from January 18, 2019. There is a release party at the Jazz Bistro in Toronto on Thursday January 17, 2019, at 8.30pm. I don’t suppose that BSH will pay for me to go, but you never know!
Ann Alex  

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