Ron Kaplan

Jazz Ambassadors

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Although Ron Kaplan has a nice warm voice, there are a few problems with this CD. The playing time is pretty brief, all of the nine warhorses have been recorded hundreds of times before (though Kaplan does contribute new lyrics to Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments"), and the singer's eccentric readings of the melodies (which include many changed notes) do not improve the themes. On "Body and Soul," one is not sure if he does not know the real melody or feels that his choice of notes improves it; the same can be said of "Stella By Starlight" and "'Round Midnight." Since Kaplan sticks to the words and merely sings a chorus apiece at the beginning and end of each song, his improvising sounds accidental. Also, considering its lyrics, "September Song" should be much more touching. The backup trio is fine (pianist Eddie Mendenhall takes some good solos), if not very distinctive. Overall, everyone involved is capable of doing much better.

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