Not only is Dale Head a remarkably swinging vocalist, he is a fine trumpet and flugelhorn player backed by Rory Snyder and his Night Jazz Band. The watchword is energy and Head knows how to crank it up.
“Over the years, I acquired some great arrangements of Jazz and Swing tunes that I love performing,” says he. Now on this, his debut album, Dale Head brings the standards from Cole Porter and Jerome Kern and more with the arrangements of Nelson Riddle and Rick Walsh and more to completely entertain and, as I said, energize.
Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me” starts it all off. Band leader Rory Snyder contributes a cool alto sax solo and the rhythm section punches it up hotly. Dale Head’s vocals are electrifying and his scat is a great bit of fun.
“Love Is the Name of the Game” by Joel Evans reveals the more lyrical approach of Head plus we get the treat of Dale Head on trumpet with Brenda Thompson on baritone sax. Pianist James Wrubel deserves attention underneath it all.
One of Head’s smoothest renditions is Sammy Cahn’s “Teach Me Tonight” as Al Jarreau recorded it. Again, Wrubel’s piano is an exquisite partner to Head’s flugelhorn.
I would have considered it daft to take on Jarreau’s version of this classic but Head owns it. The vocals are fluid and so very rich.
Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight” has been recorded by every vocalist on the planet, it would seem. So when I say that Dale Head gives a memorable rendition, that is saying a lot. Of course, the song itself suffers no wear despite the many versions but Head still manages to add his own character to this version. Plus, Rory Snyder’s Night Jazz Band just nails it.
If you enjoy James Wrubel’s piano work, “So Close to Getting Close to You” (Joel Evans, composer) hits the spot. Sandy Hughes gets a trombone solo that is worth a second (and third) listen. The youthful energy of Head’s vocals and the real pop of the band are great entertainment.
Then comes Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things.” Good Lord, what riotous excitement! Head inserts his own list of favorite things along with the list of things that require him to conjure happy thoughts like “Standing in line at the DMV.” The tempo is double-time and staccato.
“Come Rain or Come Shine” (Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen) is rendered in a languid and lyrical version that has always suited the song so well. A beautiful alto sax solo by Anthony Pickard adds a depth to the already profound piece. Fabulous horns and a great rhythm section capture the song wonderfully.
Having heard Head’s successful take on the Jarreau version of “Teach Me Tonight,” trepidation is replaced by anticipation in hearing Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo ala Turk” with lyrics by Al Jarreau.
Head captures the precision of both Brubeck and Jarreau. The fun and interest of this piece—from the original—was the 9/8 time. However, instead of the expected 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 count, Brubeck shook it up with 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3 count. A breathing challenge, certainly, but Head and the band keep up the pace and the thrill.
“No Easy Way to Say Goodbye” by Joel Evans and J. Elle is a bit of lesser-known piece but the band and Head’s muted-trumpet solo breathe real life into the piece. The lyrics, and Head’s intonation of them, are as cool as can be.
Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia” is less lonesome in Dale Head’s delivery than in the Ray Charles version. Stephen Herrick’s tenor sax solo is sweet and straight-up. This is a great Jazz vocal piece.
Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,” as arranged by Nelson Riddle is coolly rendered by Head. Sandy Hughes’ trombone and Kevin Grant’s bass trombone are featured against a vocal delivery that just doesn’t get any better. The composition, the arrangement and the performance are stellar.
The album concludes with Dave Mertell’s “Don’t Get Me Started.” What an interesting choice to conclude a vocalist’s album with an instrumental number. With a hot band like this, however, it is not so difficult at all. One can almost imagine Dale Head in the wings, watching and listening with a big grin of appreciation and enjoyment.
In an era where male Jazz vocalists have apparently gone the way of the Hi-Fi, Dale Head comes along as a fresh, energetic and, most of all, fun herald of a newfound period of Jazz enjoyment. He has the personality, the talent and the skillful stagecraft to command attention. He has exactly what it takes.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl
Follow more great music at: Blujazz.com