I’ve written a couple of reviews recently that spotlight recordings of legendary performances from the Monterey Jazz Festival, but this time around I’m focusing on an artist who will soon be making his very first appearance at the storied show. Vocalist Jamie Davis will be bringing his mellow baritone to Monterey in September, close on the heels of the release of his second solo album on the Unity label, Vibe Over Perfection.
Davis has been a fixture on the San Francisco music scene for quite a while, and in recent years has began to attract some national attention too. He’s been compared to Joe Williams and Jimmy Rushing and has appeared alongside the likes of Tony Bennett, Patty Austin, and others. He’s also spent a lot of time as a featured singer with the Count Basie band.
His recording career has blossomed too. His Unity debut, 2006’s It’s A Good Thing, established him as a classic crooner offering mostly familiar standards with an occasional surprise thrown into the mix. His newest effort continues with the same formula, and he’s backed by a full orchestra led by Scotty Berg and featuring many alumni from the Basie group.
Opening with Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” sets the tone for the album, not only because of its status as a classic standard but because of the spirit of optimism that Davis imbues in the song. This is an album of mostly feel-good music, and the singer seems to be having a ball with it.
I enjoyed most of the nine tracks on the album, with my favorites probably Bacharach’s “The Look Of Love,” which Davis performs with a smooth, almost hypnotic singing style, and something a little newer, “Hello.” The Lionel Richie song is well-done, with the lush sound of the orchestra forming a nice backing for Jamie’s golden tones.
A velvet-voiced, experienced singer in his prime, backed by a full orchestra of talented pros, all helping make this an album that’s easy to recommend.