Home > Events, Reviews > Joe Coughlin’s New CD “Lowdown West Broadway” A Winner

Joe Coughlin’s New CD “Lowdown West Broadway” A Winner

June 7, 2009

Lowdown West Broadway 2It’s been hard to miss all the press that vocalist Joe Coughlin has been getting of late, what with his latest National Jazz Award for male vocalist of the year and the recent launch of his new CD.

The new recording, his sixth, is well worth all the attention. Recorded live at The Cellar last July with his “Vancouver band,” Lowdown West Broadway is a fine album, displaying not only the vocal prowess that has made Coughlin one of the most respected jazz vocalists in the country but also the stellar instrumental work of a truly remarkable rhythm section – Miles Black on piano, Jodi Proznick on bass, and Dave Robbins on drums.

This group, with Coughlin leading the way, swings big time as they work their way through 13 standards, (including two “new standards” penned by Canadians Don and Jeff Breithaupt, old friends of Coughlin’s).

Some of these tunes are quite familiar – My Foolish Heart, On Green Dolphin Street, Summer Wind – while others, most notably That Old Devil Called Love and Peggy Lee’s I Love Being Here With You may have been heard less often. The two Breithaupt tunes, Bad Influence and Show Me Yours are Coughlin favourites, exhibiting a cheeky contemporary edge, while still retaining the vintage flavour we expect from 32-bar standards that are at the heart of the jazz songbook.

Unlike the pop singers who pass as jazz vocalists these days, Coughlin is the real deal, his voice an instrument on par with the rest of the band, a voice that phrases and improvises exactly as any wind instrument would.

It’s no accident that the liner notes list Coughlin as “voice” rather than”vocals”, since the former term, when placed next to “piano”, “bass” and “drums”, suggests this unity of purpose. This isn’t a “band” backing up a “singer” – these are four musicians interpreting these tunes together, with one particular instrument – Coughlin’s voice – taking the lead much of the time.

If you like music that swings, you’ll like this album, particularly if you sit down and really listen to how good Joe Coughlin is. He’s never achieved the fame of a Sinatra or Bennett or Torme, but he’s got all of their best vocal attributes and more.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough, particularly since it captures the intimate ambience of a jazz club, an atmosphere that works beautifully with Coughlin’s relaxed vocal style – very reminiscent of the great live recordings done in the heyday of male jazz vocalists, yet fresh and new at the same time.

The album, which was recorded by Cory Weeds and mixed and mastered by Pat Coleman and Rick Salt for Roadhouse Records is available through Coughlin’s website at http://www.joecoughlinjazz.com/

– Rick Gibbs

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