Review of “All This Love” by Ron Wynn

Nashville continues to be a haven for outstanding jazz and jazz-themed vocalists, even though they sometimes don’t get either the exposure they merit nor the attention they deserve. The newest (for me) is the engaging Joe Freel, whose new CD “All This Love” ideally bridges all the demands required for the 21st century jazz singer.

There’s a fine blend of classic and contemporary material, blending compositions from Cole Porter to Stevie Wonder, covering show tunes and recent radio hits with equal flair. Freel also displays plenty of energy and enthusiasm in his technique, yet doesn’t overly embellish or throw in histrionics for impact. He’s first and foremost a strong communicator and storyteller, especially effective when exploring beautifully written pieces like Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” or Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is The Ocean.”

But he’s just as expressive and delightful when switching to material not always included within the jazz canon. Whether it’s Kris Kristofferson’s “For The Good Times,” Wonder’s “Lately” or the El DeBarge title tune, Freel can inject within his treatment an easy swinging feel that incorporates a jazz sensibility without losing the tune’s original flavor. “Rocket Love,” another Wonder tune, isn’t one you often hear jazz stylists cover, but his version is enjoyable and soulful, as well as the cover of “Love Won’t Let Me Wait,” Major Harris’ ’70s soul hit.

“All This Love” also has outstanding production and musical assistance, thanks to the ace duo of pianist Lori Mechem and bassist Roger Spencer. They’ve provided sparse, ideal backing on the 12 selections, with a guest musician corps that also includes drummer Joshua Hunt, Joe Davidian on piano for half the tracks (Mechem for the others), percussionist Dan Sherrill on three other cuts, tenor saxophonist Evan Cobb on two, and Spencer on both acoustic and on occasion electric bass.

The list of elegant, striking and exciting vocalists working in the Nashville jazz community keeps growing, and Joe Freel is probably much better known than many (myself included) realize. Hopefully, “All This Love” will get him some national attention, because it’s every bit as good as many of the sessions that you hear on national radio programs and syndicated specialty shows.

© 2017 Ron Wynn. All rights reserved.

About Ron Wynn: Ron Wynn is a music critic, author and editor. His features, reviews and articles have run locally in the Nashville Scene, City Paper, and the Tennessee Tribune, and nationally in Jazz Times. Ron is former editor of the New Memphis Star, and was chief jazz and pop music critic for the Bridgeport Post-Telegram and the Memphis Commercial Appeal. He has contributed to such publications such as Billboard, The Village Voice, Creem, Rock & Roll Disc, Living Blues, The Boston Phoenix, and Rejoice. He was the editor of the first edition of The All Music Guide to Jazz (1994), and from 1993 to 1994 served as the jazz and rap editor of the All Music Guide. Wynn is the author of The Tina Turner Story. He has contributed liner notes for numerous albums; his liner notes for “The Soul of Country Music” received a 1998 Grammy nomination.

“How Deep Is the Ocean?” (Irving Berlin)

How many times have you heard the song “How Deep Is the Ocean” since 1932 when it was written by Irving Berlin?!  Well, whatever that number is, I hope you’ll listen to my version from my album All This Love, available on iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, etc..  I wanted an uptempo arrangement for this tune and album co-producer Lori Mechem delivered just that!  This version features fantastic instrumental solos by both Lori Mechem and tenor saxophonist Evan Cobb.  Enjoy!

“Good Things” (Joe Davidian/Joe Freel)

My album, titled All This Love, has a total of twelve songs and eleven of those are cover songs – classic pop and jazz standards written by some of America’s finest songwriters. But, my goal was to include one original song, if I could write or co-write it, and if it felt “good enough” to be included in the collection. I asked Joe Davidian if he had any instrumental tunes I could try writing a lyric for – he gave me the wonderful medium swing music for what became track #6 on the album and offered to let me attempt writing lyrics for it. The song has essentially 8 lyric phrases that took me 4 to 5 months to write. At first my lyric ideas were all over the place, then with Joe’s help, I tried writing just about one idea – the passage of time and being patient in life for good things to come your way.  It’s very difficult to write good lyrics! This lyric is inspired by real life – I am truly loved even though it seems like it took forever to happen!

I hope you like this tune and enjoy Joe Davidian on piano, Joshua Hunt on drums and Roger Spencer on bass for this recording! Here’s the lyric to “Good Things”:

Fine wine will take its time to ripen
As did my heart once I let your glowing light in
Into the darkest of my hours where I loosely clung
You shone brighter than the morning sun

Flowers will blossom when they’re ready
And so did I from the rays of hope you sent me
As sure as spring must follow winter, true love is never late
For good things will come to those who wait

© Joe Freel Music. All rights reserved.

Hear “Good Things” on iTunes

“You Taught My Heart to Sing” (McCoy Tyner/Sammy Cahn)

The simple truth of the lyric of “You Taught My Heart to Sing” (McCoy Tyner/Sammy Cahn) really speaks to me. Some people come into your life for specific reasons, often so they can help you see yourself in a different light. They help you see “the bigger picture” about who you truly are AND who you could become.  I am lucky and blessed to have several of these types of people in my life. They are the reason I recorded this song for my All This Love album, available for download and streaming at iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify and other outlets.  My good friend Joe Davidian arranged and performs piano on this recording. I asked for an energetic arrangement of “You Taught My Heart to Sing” for this project, and Joe delivered!  He altered a few time signatures from the original, added some strategic measures, inserted some classic Joe Davidian piano voicings and wow, I so love what he created!  McCoy Tyner and Sammy Cahn are masterful composers/songwriters and I hope you enjoy this rendition of their beautiful song! Check out my version on iTunes.