Nich Anderson is a Northwest coast jazz vocalist and jazz vocals champion who has been bringing jazz vocal talent to his "house concerts" in Washington State for the past 10 years. Anderson and Origin Records' house presence Bill Anschell have produced a recording documenting some of this talent. The result is a collection of duets and trios, intimate in presentation, overt in the sheer ability of its participants, that well highlight the state of vocal jazz at the opening of the 21st Century. This group of jazz vocalists is called Jazzvox.
The gender demographics reflect the recorded literature: an overwhelming majority of female participants (seven) versus male (two). The vocal styles included on this disc all share in common a reverent adherence to the original melody. The repertoire is all over the map, from jazz standards like Kelley Johnson's version of Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk," with guitarist Keith Ganz, to Fats Waller's pre-swing era "Honeysuckle Rose," from Anschell and Jo Lawry.
There is plenty of scat singing, with Kathleen Grace's "Moon River" and John Proulx's "Please Don't Bug Me" being standouts. The most effective pairings here are Hanna Richardson with pianist Patti Wicks ("Back in Your Own Back Yard" and "These Foolish Things") and John Proulx and Chuck Kistler ("Please Don't Bug Me" and "Welcome To My World").
The presence of Wicks, a fine pianist to be sure, is why she did not also sing (Proulx accompanies himself on piano). Hers is a one-of-a- kind voice. Anderson, the provocateur, appears with Wicks on a bouncing "Time After Time." His voice as sweet as Proulx's at a lower register. Wicks solos with the most brio on the disc, keeping a bit of stride moving things along. Lawry closes the disc with a most inventive trio-led "But Not For Me," accompanied by Anschell and accordionist David Lange. In Your Own Backyard
is the second vocals collection released by Origin Arts after Redefinition
by Jeff Baker's Vocal Jazz Collective. It looks like they're onto something.