Joe Augustine

Swing: Then & Now

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This is the ninth recording for Portland, Oregon-based pianist Augustine. He traveled to New York City to record with bassist David Finck and drummer Ronnie Zito. These 16 tracks run through various rhythmic styles and nuances, not the least of which is jazz swing, and Augustine uses a plethora of chops and tasteful embellishments.

Augustine starts swinging right off the bat on well-rendered, fairly standard, though slightly modified versions of "It Don't Mean a Thing," "Tuxedo Junction" and "Route 66." The leader uses a samba-to-modal-to-swing arrangement of "The Way You Look Tonight." Then the trio strays into the rather corny pseudo-hip soul-funk of "Jump, Jive & Wail," the poppish-bordering-on-disco take of "Moonlight Serenade," and a definite disco -- complete with finger-popping electric bass -- slant on "Do Nothin' 'Til You Hear From Me," plus the light fodder of "When I Fall in Love." The very best of swing returns on "In the Mood," "Fly Me to the Moon," especially on "Perdido," and the easier "Swingin' Shepherd Blues." Augustine changes up on the rambling-cowboy "Route 66"-type rhythm changes of "Take the A Train," tick-tock funk with organ overdubbed on a bridge in the Ramsey Lewis-styled "Squeeze Me," and the chapel hillside hymnal funk of the pianist's original "New Age Swing." Augustine also penned an original jazz/R&B-flavored "Fever"-ish shuffle, "Your Royal Coolness."

Augustine is a good pianist playing music done better by others. That is not to diminish his talent or dismiss his effort, but more individuality would go along way to make him stand out from the conservative standard-bearing lounge crowd.

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