Beat Kaestli: Invitation (2010)
First, there is the name: Beat Kaestli. How hip is that? A native of Switzerland, Kaestli moved to New York, where he was suitably educated in the craft of jazz at the Manhattan School of Music, and ultimately, the Aaron Copland School of Music.
Kaestli has a voice of uncommon sweetness and delicacy that is, atthe same time, durable and trustworthy. He sings as Chet Baker would have, had he had a soul inhabiting that desiccated shell of his. Like the best speakers and narrators, Kaestli possesses a unique voice, seasoned with a slight imperfection, an inter-dental lisp that adds depth and sincerity to his singing.
Kaestli's Invitation is an excellent collection of well-worn standards, presented in such a way as to make them fresh and new. Kaestli forfeits the piano for Paul Meyers' nylon string guitar. The arrangements are spare, with plenty of space allowed for Kaestli's impressive instrument. "I've Got You Under My Skin" is unusual for its eight-minute length, long for a vocal track. Meyers' light Latin playing, coupled with Jay Leonhart's exacting bass playing (he has no peer in playing bass behind vocalists) gives this Frank Sinatra staple a dreamy quality, accentuated by Joel Frahm's dry and vibrato-less tenor. It essentially becomes a modern ballad, rendered very dry, hold the vermouth, shaken not stirred.
Personnel: Beat Kaestli: vocals; Billy Drummond: drums; Jay Leonhart: bass; Paul Meyers: guitar; Joel Frahm: saxophone.
Record Label: Chesky Records