|This black CD with grooves already looks like a vinyl record; so when a needle drops on Track 1, composer Samson Trinh's concept is immediately clear.
His concept is mostly a strain-free exercise in nostalgia "Put another record on!" incorporating the sounds of the 30's and 40's (Ellington, Basie, Goodman) with equally scant and adoring references to the songbooks of Sinatra and Ray Charles. I say scant because, unfortunately, Trinh never sits still long enough to let a musical idea fully develop.
For example, "To You, Near You, With You", shows promise and first puts the baritone saxophone up front in the ensemble (like Harry Carney with Ellington) but soon we're listening to soaring strings in a Percy Faith arrangement and the vocalist, Terri Murphy, is singing lyrics like, "Just taking my time with you ... whoa/Feels like a Woody Allen flick with you."
Trinh's musical ambition is focused on style (as in life style) and mostly Swing Era jazz sounds; but, to be fair, he does compose in a variety of other musical forms.
"Thank Goodness" is a c&w tune with Jackie Frost's vocal, a piano and a steel guitar, while "Piece for Trumpet and Piano" is a simple classical duet an 8 bar sketch, really, lasting a total of 28 seconds with its final note obviously 'unresolved.'
For the jazz fan, there's "Very Strange Night", a Neal Hefti-styled tune that has cup-muted trumpets and trombones and a flute in a lightly harmonized line; and there's "I Tried to Talk to Her, But She Thought I Was Too Weird", a jazz combo performance in which tenor saxophonist J.C. Kuhl works in the last 2 bars of the Sesame Street Theme into his solo.
This all-black CD, Very Strange Night, appropriately ends with the swish of a stuck record needle, lifted Off.
by David Fujino August 2007