Review by: Jeff Becker
The Great American Songbook is the “Bible” for jazz vocalists, regardless of origin or birthplace. Vocalist Beat Kaestli was born in Switzerland, but he made New York his home after arriving to attend the Manhattan School of Music in the early 1990s. Since that time, his music has touched on everything from gospel and R&B to musical theater, but he has really narrowed his focus to jazz since his exploration of standards on Happy, Sad and Satisfied (B&B Productions, 2005). The follow-up, Far From Home (B&B Productions, 2009), touched on European songwriters, but Invitation brings him back to standards territory.
This is Kaestli’s debut for Chesky Records, while Chesky might be marketing to audiophiles—SACD Multichannel Hybrid Disc—the technology is superb, but once you arrive at Kaestli’s voice that is when the presentation starts to crumble. Though his presentation is unpretentious and organic, something I do enjoy, its lack of depth and many moments of “pitchiness” is the factor that sours the presentation overall.
Let’s explore “It Could Happen to You.” I have to say I was immediately tainted by the well known version stuck in my head, performed by Karrin Allyson on her album Collage. Kaestli’s version had certain formulaic similarities, but the tempo was a major distraction, which was actually the theme of his entire album, with songs ranging from tranquil to extremely slow.
The tune that best suited Kasteli was “Day in Day Out”; overall this was the highlight of the CD, until the slightly out of sync ending which again was a distraction from the momentum I had hoped the CD would have offered. Especially since this was not Kaestli’s debut release.