by Jeff Becker
Casey Abrams was born in Idyllwild, California. Abrams finished in sixth place in the tenth season of American Idol, five weeks after being saved from elimination by the judges. A self-titled debut album was released in 2012 through Concord Records. Tales from the Gingerbread House was released on January 29, 2016 on Doggstubb Productions, with August 18, 2017 bringing Casey Abrams Live. Chesky Records picked up the artist and released Put A Spell On You in 2018 and now in 2019 Abrams has a new album out on Chesky titled Jazz. The promo calls it “An album that hearkens back to the golden era of Jazz on Manhattan’s 52nd street, where smoke filled rooms played host to after-hours jam sessions where musicians got together with their peers to play the music that touched their souls.” Abrams is certainly the focal point of the ensemble with a strong supporting cast of Jimmy Greene (sax), Mark Whitfield (guitar), Anne Drummond (flute), and Giveton Gelin (trumpet).
The classic standard “Autumn Leaves” is the opening track. Keeping to the traditional hits within the melody, Abrams sings and plays with a relaxed swing. Greene’s solo is based in the tradition as his warm saxophone solo resonates with beauty. Whitfield’s quick lines spin out ‘Bensonish’ lines. Abrams simultaneously sings and solos for his ‘solo’ statement. Abrams voice is relaxed and clear, his style is soft spoken in the vein of Chet Baker. He does well with the standard, keeping everything short and to the point.
Whitfield and Greene provide relaxed colors as Abrams sings the well-known “The Girl from Ipanema.” Abrams rises to his upper register in the bridge and last A section, but still keeps his voice under control. Drummond’s flute solo is gorgeous as Abrams provides and steady bossa nova feel with his rich acoustic bass sound. Abrams does not try reinvent the standards, but instead puts forth wonderful renditions with a male perspective on the melodies.
Jazz is a straightforward take on jazz classics and a few pop hits from yesteryear. He keeps it simple and to the point, allowing the music to speak for itself. Abrams is a solid bass player with an unembellished vocal style. He especially excels on the soul-based tunes like “Hound Dog,” and “Need Your Love So Bad.” I guess my only quibble is, I was not very fond of the recording approach, the room they recorded in has an over reverberant resonance, which at times made the instruments feel uneven, its especially noticeable on tunes like “Autumn Leaves,” and “I’ve Got the World on a String.” His supporting cast offers solid support as Abrams creates his rendition of jazz.