Billy Stritch

Jazz Live

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Jazz artists who simultaneously sing and play piano have been relatively few and far between, especially among men. Billy Stritch is an artist who has recorded a handful of releases on his own since his debut CD in 1991, but his third effort is very convincing. His vocals communicate lyrics effectively, with a friendly warm style and clear enunciation; his piano chops aren't bad, either. He is accompanied by a superb rhythm section, bassist John Arbo and drummer Dave Ratajczak, both of whom are featured in several places each. Another factor that adds to Stritch's appeal is the wide range of material he performs. He successfully blends the forgotten oldie "Red Sails in the Sunset" with the modern Brazilian song "Sails" (by Ivan Lins). The swing era is heavily represented with "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me" and "But Not for Me," plus two swing medleys. He throws a curve by playing "On Green Dolphin Street" strictly as an instrumental, and revives a neglected gem by Rodgers & Hart, "Mountain Greenery." This well-recorded live set from an extended gig in 1999 at the Jazz Standard in New York City is well worth checking out.

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