The New Deal
Exceptionally smooth and intensely melodic, trumpeter Charlton Singleton's solo album The New Deal is a true gem. The six-song collection features four original compositions, two sophisticated renditions of jazz classics, and solid performances from some of the most outstanding jazz musicians in the local scene.
Some fans might recognize Singleton as the conductor of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, an elegant project conducted by the leaders of the Jazz Artists of Charleston. The New Deal isn't a big-band/swing project, though — it more accurately reflects his be-bop and Latin-jazz background as a frontman with his own quartets and quintets. Here, the core lineup features saxophonist Mark Sterbank, bassist Reggie Sullivan, and drummer David Patterson, with tag-team pianists Tommy Gill and Richard White.
The New Deal begins with a burst of energy as the upbeat title track leaps into action with Singleton's brassy accents in the forefront of a be-bop rhythm. His remarkable proficiency and warm tones are on full display, as are the skills of his bandmates. The sax and piano on the opening tune are vibrant, and Patterson's crisp drumming propels everything.
The delicate, slow-moving "Machen" swings at a breezy pace as Singleton's muted horn mingles with the piano phrases and the rhythm combinations from Sullivan's dynamic bass lines and Patterson's complex brush work. The bossa nova "Eudoranova" gets a little slinky with a loose-and-sparse rhythm pattern. It's a smooth, lounge-friendly number with several fired-up piano solos. The bluesy "Sweets' Sweets" is light and playful, with Singleton blowing the theme way down low in register. The warm tones and casual phrases resemble those of flugelhorn master Clarke Terry.
The sophisticated syncopation of the rhythm section enhances Singleton's peppery version of the Victor Young standard, "Stella by Starlight." Singleton demonstrates episodes of both cool restraint and deep emotion with his breathy performance on the cover of Johnny Green's "Body and Soul," the moodiest track. At times, he makes his horn sound like a woodwind instrument, especially during the low-volume, dynamic vibrato moments.
Singleton's mature performance reaches new peaks. His technique and range are those of a thoughtful musician. The support from his talented colleagues in the studio totally complements the groovy swing and bop going down. (charltonsingleton.com)
Charlton Singleton leads his combo at the Charleston Grill on Tuesdays from 7-11 p.m. Singleton performs with the Charleston Jazz Orchestra at the Charleston Music Hall on Sat. Jan. 28.