Dewey Erney

The Time Was: Standards of Excellence, Vol. 3

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This is the third installment from West Coast vocalist Dewey Erney in which he applies his smooth baritone voice to classic standards from the Great American Songbook. While not strictly a jazz singer, Erney nonetheless has a very listenable, pleasant voice that's reminiscent of pop singers like Jerry Vale and Al Martino. Consequently, this session offers little in the way of inventiveness, improvisation, or other risk-taking usually associated with practitioners of vocal jazz. This disc should not be dismissed out of hand, however. There's a handsome selection of tunes from the standard category, with an appealing balance of ballads, midtempo numbers, and uptempo ones as well. Erney has excellent diction, nice phrasing, and clearly a deep affection for the lyrics which comes through as he winds his way through the playlist. He caresses such tunes as "Day by Day," "My Funny Valentine," and the middle-aged man's lament "This Is All I Ask." "Gone with the Wind" and "Speak Low" are framed by a medium tempo, while Erney brings out his swinging credentials on "I've Got the World on a String," where he sings the verse. What makes this album such a treasure are the outstanding musicians working with Erney on this session. Tenor sax man Dan St. Marseille (who also founded the Resurgent label) moves between cool and hard bop as he backs Erney and solos on several cuts. His cool opening on "Serenade in Blue" and his hard-bopping choruses on "My Favorite Things" show his versatility. Pianist Brian O'Rourke provides a comfortable setting for Erney's voice without being intrusive. Benjamin May's arco bass playing is prominent on such tunes as "How Deep Is the Ocean" and "My Favorite Things," while Denny Dennis' drums keep solid time throughout. There's nothing fancy nor sensational on this album; it's a pleasing, uncomplicated musical excursion to the land where those songs which have been performed countless times reside.

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