The Avant Gardeners

Blue

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West Coast trumpeter/vocalist Nate Birkey first showcased his Art Farmer-meets-Chet Baker sound as a member of the Avant Gardeners, including guitarists Wes Marquette and Josef Woodard, bassist Chris Symer, and drummer Luis Munoz. Ostensibly Birkey's date, Blue gets off to a mellow start with a very Baker-esque rendition of the ballad "Blame It on My Youth." Quickly changing gears, though, Baker features his plunger mute technique on the up-tempo New Orleans-style original "The One Who Makes Me Cry." "Secret Eyes" is another original composition of note, with its Spanish-influenced guitar backgrounds and thoughtful melody. A few of these compositions show up on other Birkey solo releases, and while Indelibly You is the definitive Birkey release, Blue stands as a perfect introduction to his cool aesthetic.

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