by Constance Tucker
Vocalist Kevin Bachelder and drummer Jason Lee Bruns have a delightful collection of well-known melodies from multiple genres entitled, Cherry Avenue, a wonderful offering that is sure to please any one that likes their music with a jazz flavor, yet still cohesively easy to hum. Bachelder evokes a warm timbre vocal style that is fluent and full of passion. The two leaders have focused on keeping things moving along with an emphasis on the singing, you won’t find ten minute solos on this recording, and instead they offer highly original arrangements that bring new and creative light to this collection of familiar tunes.
Bachelder and Bruns have built a cohesive group sound that uses a three horn configuration of trumpet, saxophone and trombone to keep things full, yet still leaving plenty of space for Bachelder to expand upon. The two also do an excellent job of giving just enough solo space to everyone in the group to always keep things fresh for the listener and they also offer inventive twists with the forms to break the well-known pattern of melody normally presented on these classic tunes. It is these inventive small changes that give each tune the lilt and originality needed to keep things fresh.
“Autumn Leaves” finds Bachelder’s voice paired with a moving set of ensemble hits that lead into afro-cuban inspired feels. Bachelder’s display of vocal control is evident in his upper-register notes; they are focused and add much to this melody. His vocal solo is strong and very horn like. Ron Blake provides and exciting trumpet solo. Bachelder’s skills on this track show his maturity and originality.
“I Fall in Love Too Easily” is a beautiful ballad version that real allows the listener to get lost in the beauty of the melody; Bachelder’s voice poignantly conveys the tender lyric with conviction and desire. Bruns’ brush work is interactive and respectful of the melody all the while pushing forward and giving the ballad that wonderful “breathing” quality that makes it feel passionate and organic. The two have a great formula for keeping things musical and easy to listen to and enjoy.
“Cherry Avenue” has a great deal of creativity and virtuosity from Bachelder’s bluesy singing to the overall cohesive ‘group’ sound. The rhythm section supports him flawlessly and respects the space needed for him to add his bluesy vocal licks. This perhaps is the highlight track of the CD and a great way to end the project. A wonderful outing overall and a melody driven journey that is sure to please, highly recommended.