Dewey Erney with the Tom Kubis Orchestra: Lucky To Be Me! (2005)
Lucky To Be Me!, a collaboration of song and swing, is a throwback to an earlier era that embraced the romantic and gentler side of jazz. Vocalist Dewey Erney has often been compared Tony Bennet and Frank Sinatra, but his voice is actually most similar to that of the late Mel Torme. While he has twelve previous recordings to his credit, this is his first on the Primrose Lane label.
Erney enlisted the talents of saxophonist/arranger and bandleader Tom Kubis to provide the musical background for this album. Kubis did all of the arrangements and leads an orchestra of well-established big-name players from Southern California (Andy Martin, Alex Iles, Charlie Morales, Wayne Bergeron and Ron Stout). The ensemble also includes bassist Luther Hughes, owner of the Primrose Lane label, and a four-piece string section that adds a symphonic feel to selected tracks.
With fifteen standards from the Great American Songbook by such composers as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, and even Duke Ellington, this disc plays to a mature audience. Erney's unique voice lends a soft and cushy feel to the slew of love songs. The vocalist dances through the lyrics, and the band provides a powerful orchestration on the opener, a sweet start containing all of the elements that define this album. "Never Let Me Go" is one of many love songs and the first that introduces the string sectionwhich you can also hear on "I'll Never Stop Loving You" and "Why Did I Choose You?," slow love ballads that the singer voices warmly.
There's a slight shade of the Sinatra style on the title cut, where Erney belts out a swinging melody. The orchestra shines throughout this album, but never in such an impressive way as on the familiar "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World," which features a Kubis solo on the muted horn and a roar from the woodwinds. Kubis lends another solo (on tenor) on "I Didn't Know About You/I Didn't Know What Time It Was," employing a delicious harmony that sounds tailor-made for Erney's velvet vocals. The singer dedicated this album to his wife, which is probably the reason why there's plenty of romantic material here. He completes the set with one last love song, the melodic "Rio Largo," featuring solos from trombonist Martin and another voicing from the bandleader on tenor.
In an age of exploding free jazz, avant-garde, fusion, world jazz, mainstream and bebop styles, it is refreshing to hear some good old-fashioned (never out of style) jazz vocals for a change. Lucky To Be Me! recaptures a time in music when the lyrics in the songs of jazz emphasized the word "love," and Erney pronounces it with emotion and heart. A timeless voice and an incredible big band performance by a first-rate ensemble make Lucky To Be Me! a gem.
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Track Listing: When I Take My Sugar To Tea/When My Sugar Walks Down The Street; Never Let Me Go; Everything I Love; One At A Time; I'm All Smiles; Then I'll Be Tired Of You; The Most Beautiful Girl In The World; I'll Never Stop Loving You; It Only Happens When I Dance With You; I Didn't Know About You/ I Didn't Know What Time It Was; Isn't This A Lovely Day; Why Did I Choose You; Time After Time; Rio Largo.
Personnel: Dewey Erney: vocals; Tom Kubis: bandleader, tenor saxophone, piano and trumpet; Kate Prestia-Schaub: flute; Ron Stout, Wayne Bergeron, Stan Martin: trumpets; Andy Martin, Alex Iles, Charlie Morales: trombones; Gerry Schroeder:piano; Luther Hughes: bass; Kendall Kay: drums; Kathleen Robertson, Cameron Patrick: violins; Darrin McCann: viola; Missy Hasin: cello.