After taking in Anthony Strong's rather amazing latest release, Stepping Out (here), a CD of takes on The Great American Songbook that floored even Rod Stewart, one of rock's all-time imperishables, I was more than ready for Todd Londagin's Look Out for Love, which kinda plays Chet Baker to Strong's Louis Prima. Where Strong is solid muscle, Londagin is relaxed, carefree, and sly while be-boppin' like Michael Franks, Ben Sidran, and a cat I oft use as a benchmark: Robert Kraft. Too, the guy plays trombone, and one can never get too much of the 'bone, right ladies? Ahem! (Catch the final cut here to see why that solecism is appropriate.) In truth, though, I wish he'd played more of it, but what's here is quite eagerly consumed by those of us who hunger for the horn. And, hey!, when was the last time you heard a woman play a really solid bass? Doesn't happen often, right? Much rarer than really good women guitar players (who, thank God, are slowly getting more prolific). Well, pay attention to Jennifer Vincent's solo in Bye Bye Baby, and you'll be sitting straight up, noting her throughout the disc.
Then there's Pete Smith's straight-ahead swing guitar, Matt Ray's effervescent piano, and David Berger's very peppy drumwork. If you weren't up and dancin' while Todd was singin', as soon as Dave cuts in with his skins, Tex Avery's reet-pleated skirt-chasing wolf will jump straight into memory, and you'll be jitterbugging like a coyote who just discovered moonshine. And remember Terry Gilliam's Brazil? Well, the Barroso / Russell theme song's here in duet with vocalist Ms. Toby Williams, minus the film's dark elements and with plenty of mojito-iced afternoon frolic.
Londgain can also be wittily acerbic, as the opening and closing cuts demonstrate with enviable aplomb, the closer especially, a KILLER take on a track I was previously unfamiliar with but now ranks very highly in my Valhalla of compositions that dazzle: Bust Your Windows. Both it and Look Out for Love smash the chivalric and Carlylian codes to atoms, reflecting what lurks beneath the well-veneered surface of love once it's jilted. The rest of the menu is pretty much what one expects from Tin Pan Alley, here wrapped in velvet and goaded by Kickapoo Joy Juice, but, in the bookended cuts mentioned, I think Londagin's anticipating a turn The Songbook may well take in coming years.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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