Gerard Carelli

Lucky to Be Me

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Born in New Jersey, vocalist/trombonist Gerard Carelli moved across the river where he enjoys a career as orchestra leader, producer, entertainment director, and jazz/cabaret performer. Along the way he studied jazz at North Texas State University, was part of Ray Charles' band, and played for such singers as Rosemary Clooney and Mel Tormé. Much of what he has assimilated from these experiences culminate in his second self-produced album. Using charts prepared by John Oddo and joined by top New York musicians, Carelli runs through a mostly standards program. His trombone recalls Tommy Dorsey with its mellowness, which is dubbed in to support his singing. He also solos with one of the more engaging efforts with the trombone on "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?," which is done without benefit of vocals. His voice is light and appealing, in tune, and lyrically literate. Carelli is especially adept at up-tempo pieces like a fun-filled "Leader of a Big-Time Band" and "New York, New York." But on ballads with his light voice, he sometimes struggles to project the appropriate emotional conviction. So on tunes like "So in Love," after a slow opening chorus, he shifts to a medium tempo for the second one and it works. Given the classy cast of musicians, top-notch ensemble playing is expected and is received. In fact, the album is worth obtaining just for the musicianship with the vocalizing a nice bonus. Some tracks to mark in this regard are "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" and "Once in Love With Amy," with Jay Leonhart's bass having a lot to say on the latter track. Carelli gets better with each release, which creates a good deal of anticipation for a third album.

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