Ron Kaplan

Lounging Around

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Ron Kaplan recorded and released his album Lounging Around in 1999. He has a sturdy, resonant low tenor with a conversational timbre suggestive of mid-period Frank Sinatra. Left to itself, the voice is perfectly capable of providing good performances. But the interpretations Kaplan turns in here suggest that, maybe, after these standards have been played and recorded by jazz singers so many times over the years, there's nothing new to be done with them, and any further available variations are just inappropriate. When he sings straight, Kaplan is fine, but when he tries for jazz -- substituting notes, changing his time -- he just sounds like he's singing wrong, not like he's singing jazz. The real jazz players are the bandmembers: organist Steve Czarnecki; flügelhorn player Dmitri Matheny; tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, Jr.; drummer Guiseppe Merolla; guitarist Larry Scala; and bassist Perry Thorsell. They get plenty of space to solo on tracks that run between four and seven minutes, to the point that Kaplan sometimes just seems like the featured vocalist in a jazz band, taking a chorus here and there. That would be okay, if only he didn't try to assert his own jazz chops, which seem to be negligible.

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