John Vance is a vocalist who stylistically falls along the lines of Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Bublé, and Peter Cincotti. The difference is that Vance is not consciously trying to sound like Frank Sinatra. While definitely conforming to the style of '50s pop-jazz-swing songsters, Vance has a different kind of croon going on. Yes he's smooth, clean, solid, unspectacular, and works fairly well within his range and depth of expression. But there is nothing slick, forced, or phony about his approach. The musicianship of his band is noteworthy, particularly his pianist/music director John Colella, the fine bassist Trey Henry, and on cameo appearances the excellent veteran trumpeter Stacy Rowles and guitarist Larry Koonse. This program of standards plays toward the predictable, but Colella's arrangements (especially the energetic contemporary groove treatment of "You Don't Know What Love Is") turns well-worn chestnuts into newly polished gems. Vance pushes his upper range on "I Hadn't Anyone 'Til You," and works in a lighter mood on the good bossa take of "Speak Low," both with the vibrant and smart trumpet playing of Rowles. Koonse, a truly underrated jazz guitar expert, holds serve on the combo standard/Brazilian song "Like a Lover," two different songs with the same name merged beautifully. During the slow ballad "My Foolish Heart" and the serene Henry Mancini penned title track, both Vance and Koonse show their innate melodic sense, teamwork, and lack of pretentiousness. Vance sounds very good on the spare shuffle blues version of "Darn That Dream," the pensive "Invitation," and "I'm Beginning to See the Light" with a slight vibrato reflective of a restrained Al Martino, Bobby Darin, or Tony Bennett. But he is at his best on the waltz "Bluesette," inspired by the tricky 11/8 metered intro by Henry, and especially at the top of his game on a fine interpretation of Bob Dorough's fun tune "Better Than Anything," a waltz romp through life's delights that suits Vance's range perfectly. The first written lyric by Vance is here on the insular plea ballad "If You Go." This is the second CD for Vance, and shows his potential, with much more to come, if he is not ensnared in the tender trap of the overly produced and commercialized pop-jazz world.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos