Review by Brad Walseth
Romantic songwriters seem such an anachronism in this post-modern world of traffic gridlock, rampant materialism, terrorist bombings and a general sense of antipathy toward anything subtle, joyful or hinting at disposable notions like romantic love. Fortunately, this approach is not completely a lost art, as proven by Bob Levy's lovely collection of "new jazz standards," Out in the Cold.
With lyrics that rhyme and express romantic yearnings and regrets in an intelligent and sophisticated manner, Levy shows himself to be a gifted lyricist and melodicist. He has his perfect match in Nashville veteran Jerry Lundy, who crafts music that matches Levy's vision perfectly. The production by Jamey Whiting is clear and clean, yet warm, and the Nashville touches (there is a little Charlie Rich in the piano) gives the jazz a slightly different and welcome tinge of Southern grace. The musicianship as well is professional and the guitar work (no credit listed) quite tasty.
Singer Perry Danos is a wonderful fit for Levy's songs, as his soothing voice reminds one of Tony Bennett. Guest vocalists Dane Vannatter and Shelly Miller add some flavor of their own as well, Vannatter with a little, lighter vocal timbre, and Miller bringing a nice change-of-pace female interpretation (in turn proving Levy can write for both sexes), but in the end it is the songs themselves that are the stars of the record.
Songs like the title track, "Paris Without You" and "All I Really Need is You" bring back the glory days of the well-written standard, while "Why Pretend" and "Ask Me if I Care" sound like something one of the Nashville crossover greats like Eddy Arnold would have done - reminding us, as in the case of Ray Charles, just how close the classic country music was to the jazz tradition. Meanwhile, "What Were You Thinking" with Miller's sweet vocals over a nice Latin-tinged composition is another treat, reminding me a bit of Brazil '66 style pop.
I have the feeling we may be hearing some of Levy's new standards entering the repertoire of cabaret singers seeking new high-quality songs. Meanwhile, for lovers of smooth, old-school jazz, this is the perfect opportunity to turn the lights down low and share a quiet break from the tumult of modern life with a special someone.