Cleveland pianist, composer/arranger and band-leader Tadd Dameron’s importance always has been worth noting, if nothing else for his well-loved compositions “Good Bait” and “Ladybird.” So it’s certainly odd that there hasn’t been an album devoted to his romantic vocal work, until now.
Digging out Dameron’s gems from institutions across America, fellow Clevelander Vanessa Rubin has accomplished a feat of adoration and reverence. The vocalist commissioned 12 impressive arrangements of Dameron’s work for nonet and quartet, seven with original lyrics, each contributed by the pianist’s acclaimed contemporaries, including Benny Golson and Jimmy Heath.
Rubin’s scat choruses over “Lady Bird” features the deep sonorities of her vocal range, accentuated by the ensemble. Completely immersed, she transcends the music, allowing Dameron’s sophisticated wit to take prominence. “Kitchenette Across The Hall” further illuminates Rubin’s solid interpretative approach, and “Weekend” has an casual sense of play, well suited to her joyful, effortless delivery. And while Rubin soars over “Good Bait,” horn and woodwind intonation issues tend to disappoint throughout, diminishing the work’s impact.
Honoring Dameron’s Wizardry, Rubin and her collective get straight to the matter, expressing a genius and creative legacy with the sincere respect that the often over-looked composer truly deserves and finally has.