Ron Mitchell: Smile
Ron Mitchell (vocals)
Jazzy Me (REM Solo Music)
Composed by Charlie Chaplin. Lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons.
Recorded: Lileth's Live Jazz House, Kagoshima, Japan
Rating: 86/100 (learn more)
This is not the kind of music I'm normally drawn to. The male voice singing jazz has almost never done it for me. Maybe it's a “guy thing.” Oh sure, I can appreciate Johnny Hartman, Mel Torme, and Tony Bennett and do own several of their records. But usually I leave the immediate experience with no emotional connection. Hmmm...in the middle of that last sentence, flashing lights went off in my head, fashioning the word 'Sinatra.' OK, so there's a counter-example.
Singer Ron Mitchell caught my attention mostly because, sonically, he doesn't sound like any of those vocal giants. He seems to pull from both older and more modern influences, with a slight tilt toward the higher registers. I'm thinking of Nat King Cole (Oops! Counter-example number two!) by way of Little Jimmie Scott with maybe a touch of Al Jarreau. On this version of the classic “Smile,” Mitchell teams with singer Lileth to get a nice smolder going on. With the Keishi Matsumoto trio as anchor, the song is split into an opening ballad followed by a more uptempo segment.
I can almost hear Simon Cowell saying that it's “a little too cabaret.” There might be a tiny bit of truth to that, but with chops like these, Mitchel can ignore the slight. And hey, he's got me thinking I've got to go back and revisit the vocalists section my collection. Thanks Ron!
Reviewer: Mark Saleski