His first album represents Richie Summa's return to jazz after a hiatus to study law and work as a public defender in Tallahassee, FL. Given how tough it is to make a living playing jazz, Summa correctly concluded he needed a good paying day job. Before he left the field, the Florida guitarist developed an excellent set of performing credentials. He worked with such show business notables as Julie Andrews, Margaret Whiting, Della Reese, and Bob Hope. He played in pit bands for the productions of La Cage Aux Folles, A Chorus Line, and Zorba. His guitar pedigree is also worthy as he studied with Sal Salvador, one of the elite guitar players of the last half of the 20th century. Salvador's mastery of the rhythm guitar and comping is heard in Summa's playing. But you can also hear the influence of another major jazz guitarist, Mundell Lowe, in the way Summa swings and addresses the melody line. The program for this session is a salubrious mixture of traditional pop tunes, standards, and an original, "Celita Marie." The guitarist offers a variety of tempi running from the slow and romantic as on "My Romance" to the upbeat on "In a Mello Tone." "What a Wonderful World" comes across as something close to a folk song. An album highlight is his guitar duet with Tony Purrone on Jobim's "Once I Loved."
Summa's vocalizing is not going to overpower the listener with its power. Rather, his approach is gentle and expressive, much like Chet Baker, but with more body and range. He has excellent phrasing and good diction and has mastered the technique of using his guitar to frame the pictures he is creating with the lyrics. This album is a soothing, pleasing 50-plus minutes of music and is recommended.