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Album Review

Ralph Carney’s Serious Jass Project – “S/T” [self-released]

cujo   8/19/2012   CD, Jazz

Mid-tempo swinging jazz so serious it’s called jass. Here the bay area treasure and friends, on this freshman effort, deep dive into the Ellington songbook, bringing that characteristically light-hearted Carneyval atmosphere to otherwise neglected tunes. They succeed best with Clouds In My Heart (track 5), bringing it back out of the muddy waters. Track 3 introduces Carney’s trick of overdubbing himself with any number of reeds. When playing live, it’s not such a big deal, he just plays multiple instruments simultaneously. Tracks 8 and 13 have the band jumping and jiving. Any songbook is always enlivened by a Jimmy McHugh tune (Track 6). The unexpected gem is Karina Denike’s guest vocal on the cantabile-cabaletta Track 12. And thank goodness he invited her; Carney’s singing voice needs a lot of work (and he knows it; and he knows we know it). Like the sophomore effort already in the library, the album closes with a whimsical free-for-all.

-Cujo, KFJC, Aug 2012

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