I think it was the Swingle Singers who first fascinated me regarding the possibilities of voice when I was a kid finding myself attracted to music to a far greater degree than most of my compeers. Then came the odd, goofy, cool doo-wop world followed by The Four Seasons, who really nailed me, simultaneously riveting my ear to choral work in the falsetto range. Later I got into instrumental jazz until stumbling onto The Manhattan Transfer and kindred groups, as well as some stand-out solo efforts (Kenny Rankin's Silver Morning for one, with Phoebe Snow an earlier version in many ways). After all that, I was a sucker for The Nylons, Take 6, The Flying Pickets, just about every such jazz choral group I could lay my paws on. Thus, receiving this disc, the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet's Hustlin' for a Gig only rekindled a flame that has, for a while now, stood in need of good solid fuel to keep it healthy.
More, this entire shebang is the result of the extremely talented Ginny Carr, who wrote and arranged all but one song (and then arranged that one too, words and music written by Strouse / Adams) and took many lead vocals in a snappy, pure, highly melodious flow of often tongue-twisting verses. When you catch how tight, clean, and sparkling everything is, well, hoo-ha!, that's just another layer of frosting on the mouth-watering cake. This is as high-end as a Grant Geissman disc, with co-producer Bob Dawson engineering the ten-spot of compositions to the level of a perfectly-tuned racing car.
Hendricks, Lambert, and Ross come in for accolades from the ensemble along with the Transfer, but Eddie Jefferson is Carr's special guru, and she tributizes the guy (and Coleman Hawkins) in the opening track, well backed by Robert McBride, Holly Shockey, and Andre Enceneat, her co-conspirators bopping atop an eight-piece knocking the nines out. This disc is a giant step back into a form that saw its high point earlier in recent history and still hasn't been improved upon, in this outing remaining delightful as hell and clearly vintage, every bow and ribbon in place, singin' 'n swingin'. Hustlin' for a Gig? Cah-monnnn! It's a sure thing. Any promoter that wouldn't sign the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet to pizzazz their fest up would be an idiot!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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