Smokey Robinson!!! Re: [JPL] Gladys Knight - Say What?

Jae Sinnett jaejazz at
Tue Sep 12 11:26:28 EDT 2006

Mark, I'm not sure why you attached your Smokey posting to the one I wrote in about Gladys Knight - particularly when yours had absolutely nothing to do with Gladys Knight. That said, I will respond by saying the Smokey Robinson release will go into my category of stinkers of the year. It's flat out horrible. It's always interesting to me how people hear music and how it can be so radically different at times. I'm also one that believes if I say something like that about a recording I should at least give some sort of reason to my thinking in all fairness.  
  ONE reason.....he's singing horribly out of tune. In this case it doesn't have as much to do with him not connecting with a tonal center of the song but more to do with his obvious inability to sing musically and comfortably over advanced harmonic structures. Further.....because of this he apparentely doesn't have the ability to "compliment" the chord with "color" tones that would be in line with the harmony that is supporting him. Then throw in that limited range, annoying fast vibrato (particularly when it's out of tune), his struggles with singing in time in spots with the rhythm on some songs and not being able to move the music forward with textural understanding and flare. Believe me, I could go on. One thing I've always said about jazz is that it's the most revealing music I know. It will expose the musicians weakness in ways that even they never thought it would. This recording is a blaring example. 
  This is unfortunately common with vocalists coming out of a pop/rock/R&B background that haven't dealt with jazz rhythm, concept and harmony. Do we blame it on the producers for not hearing this or the artists egos? Many times the harmony and rhythm underneath leaves them out in the middle of no where. Plus, one of the jobs of the producers is to help pick music that would be compatible with the artists style. Many times the artists may not know what that would be....hence the producer. I'm not sure if he picked the material or his producer but the songs selected work totally against his capable level of singing. This is what's so surprising to me with the Gladys Knight CD. There's simply no comparison - no matter which way you look at it. It's somewhat ironic because they are basically in the same generation of pop/soul icons. One for sure though has done their homework and studied and practiced jazz more than the other. 
  Tom mentioned grammy for Diana Krall. I would say grammy for Gladys and the only thing that would keep her from winning would be the fact that her history isn't associated with "jazz" music. That will work against her. If the listening is objective, she will win because I haven't heard a better "total package" vocal release this year.  
  Jae Sinnett 

Mark Shapiro <speaklow at> wrote:

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The album that astounds me is Smokey Robinson's 'Timeless Love'.

It's a stunning masterpiece. Glowing warmth and great depth of feeling that are a foundation for the stylistic exuberance. 

"Tea For Two" is done as slow motion Motown, and it is as good as a definitive vocal version of that song (and that's taking into account some pretty great versions over the last seventy years or so!). 

"Fly Me To The Moon" is straight ahead jazz, and the band is right on it - and this is another that's as good as a definitive version! I mean, the emotion that this man draws is incredible. Andy Bey, yeah he's deep. But Smokey Robinson, man, that's another kind of deep too!

"I'm In The Mood For Love". Again, I can't imagine it gets any better than this.

Some of the tracks might not be suitable for straight ahead jazz programming, but they're so outsanding, of such high artistic caliber, that they're the kind that deserve inclusion anyway. And there are tracks that are straight ahead jazz.

This album moves me emotionally every time I listen to it. It's among the very best new jazz albums I've heard in a long long time.

Mark Shapiro

This week's sponsor: Russ Kassoff - ''SOMEWHERE'' (2006) - RHK JAZZ 


''It goes without saying that FRANK SINATRA could have enlisted the services of any accompanist he wanted. The fact that he chose RUSS KASSOFF speaks volumes about Kassoff's unequivocal artistry, which is splendidly showcased on SOMEWHERE'' (Jack Bowers-AAJ). After almost 40 years as a professional musician, KASSOFF's first album as a leader features his serene beauty, intriguing style, and vivid concepts as an outstanding composer and gifted improviser. With MARTIN WIND (bass) and TIM HORNER (drums), ''SOMEWHERE is vibrant, compelling, and destined to become an essential component of collections that favor jazz trios'' (Paula Edelstein-AMG). ''Performed with class and a fine touch'' (Marion McPartland), ''SOMEWHERE is a masterpiece'' (Bucky Pizzarelli).



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