Chicago-based trumpeter/flügelhornist/vocalist Jeff Hedberg stands out as a singing musician and makes his voice count on this understated presentation of jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, film scores, and jazz legends Horace Silver and Thelonious Monk. Often compared to Chet Baker, Hedberg's phrasing as a singer has certainly been influenced by his trumpet playing, which is quite apparent on "Let's Get Lost" and "My Funny Valentine," two songs often covered by Baker on several issues of Chet Baker Sings. Hedberg's swinging uptempo offering on "Comes Love" and swaying samba on "Dindi" contrast the quiet romantic moods he sets on "The Summer Knows" and "Cry Me a River." This not only shows his versatility, but is a true testament to the fact that Hedberg is not out to rest his embouchure on these soft ballads, but to show that he can function with finesse on three separate levels -- as a leader, instrumentalist, and singer -- within one cohesive sextet. His spare approach on "'Round Midnight," has his style technically updated. However, the lonely ambience of his muted horn suggests that Hedberg can play an emotionally appealing set that can stand on its own integrity. Guest artist Judy Roberts offers memorable piano accompaniment that gives this song lift. "My Funny Valentine" is another emotionally appealing ballad that indicates that Jeff Hedberg is capable of expressing his passionate vocal skills on various levels while allowing the listener to interpret and enjoy his brilliant technical skills. He sustains notes on this song without wavering, later double and triple tonguing for more effect. While only a few of today's top brass instrumentalists offer their vocal stylings on their trumpet recordings (Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong all sang and played trumpet), Jeff Hedberg's fans will be delighted to hear his cohesive blend of past and present vocal and brass influences on his debut for Blujazz, The Summer Knows.
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein