Saturday, 22 March 2014

Tim, Roy, Chester (and Larry)

Album Review
Tim McDonald II
Tim McDonald, Featuring Chester Thompson and Roy Vogt
Genre: Jazz, Instrumental

Roy Vogt had posted a blog on Thunder Row back when this album was released in 2011. I bought a copy on Napster (yes, Napster), but lost it when Napster shut down. Big dummy, I never saved a copy to my computer!

Then came 2013, and I heard about the album again when Tim and Roy were going to be featuring a Stage-It show.

You buy a ticket online, and - when it's time for the show - go to the designated web coordinates. Tim and Roy were there; they had computers in front of them that featured real-time interaction with the audience members. We typed, then they read and answered our questions. They were even taking requests; it was wonderful!

At any time during the show, you could go back to the box-office and buy up extra coin or "note" credits to "tip" the performers a coupla bucks if you really liked the songs. Sorta like buying power-ups for online games. You buy 'em and use 'em when you want. I sent some tips, believe me!

During the show, I even slipped out to the CD Baby website and bought a fresh copy of Tim McDonald II, featuring bassist Roy Vogt and drummer, Chester Thompson.

It's a beautiful, emotional album, that - in parts - actually brought tears to my eyes. Okay, except for Pitts Ave. which made me get up and jig. Um...and Deep Blue Grass, which made me shake my can. OK, actually, only one track brought tears to my eyes. The rest was all about fun and great tunes. Bottom line: this album has a little something for everybody. McDonald's keyboard playing is both rich and light-fingered. He's all about the soul and mood, feeling and expression. Vogt plays a mean bass that holds an equal part in the mix to the piano. In this collection, the bass is not background - it's a partner. And Thompson's drumming is smart, playful, and always feels right for each piece. Love the cymbals and snares!

First is Le Bouche Noire (The Black Mouth). It's a nice jazz number. Perfect background music, but the kind that makes you ask, "What's that we're listening to?" Even if you're having a quiet conversation over the music, you cannot NOT hear it in your heart. I pictured myself in a smoky, underground night club, sizzling with the cats and kittens, over martinis and the rims of our black Ray Bans. Hotcha!

The opening number slips away and up comes Home. This is the one that made me get a little emotional. It's a melodic piano piece that will - hopefully - make you remember whatever HOME means to you. Maybe good, maybe not-so-much, but the memories are yours for the taking. Lovely song. A real fave.

Before going right back to livelier music, we're next treated to Mojave, another gentle number, but with more atmosphere than Home. When I hear a song like this, I think of open spaces (which is how it should be, by the title). I also feel the whole thing as one. I don't say, "nice piano", or "I love the bass and drums here." It's an entire experience; all the instruments are exactly where they should be.

Deep Blue Grass livens things up a bit from the previous softer pieces; it opens with some slick drums and bass before the piano joins in. You can't help but hold your hands up like you're playing a big double bass. Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa! Or if you're a drummer, you'll snare along with it, eyes closed as you brush out the beat. Those of you who like piano best of all will be playing your air-keys when you listen to this one!

I Mean You made me smile the whole way through. It's another of those fine "trio" songs, and if you don't actually get up and dance, you'd better at least be tapping them toes! Great bass jam in the middle!

Things stay lively with the sixth in the line-up, called What's the Name of That Song. Each of the three men speaks with a featured solo part, first is Vogt's fast fingers on bass, then McDonald tickles those ivories, and finally, Thompson gives us some great beats on drums. This is another of those great nightclub songs. I can almost picture an old black and white movie from the Forties. And now, the nightclub scene...

Walking In Memphis is a song we all know, or should. McDonald pulls double duty on this one by playing his keyboard as well as doing the singing. I didn't see any credits on the album about who did the background vocals. Hmm. This is one of the songs they featured in the Stage-It show. I think it got the highest applause from the crowd! I know I loved it best of all.

The album closes out with Pitts Ave. featuring Larry Perkins as the banjo man (and I believe guitar and fiddle, too). Now a foursome instead of a trio, the guys really burn it down with this closing number. I don't know. What do you think? The Devil Went Down To Memphis?

All in all, a pretty impressive album. You can always tell when musicians work well together, not just note-for-note, but as friends who enjoy what they do!

I loved it in 2011 and I'm glad I got a new copy. Thanks for the music!

All songs written by Tim McDonald except:
Mojave - by Tim McDonald and Roy Vogt
I Mean You - by Thelonius Monk
Walking In Memphis - by Marc Cohn

Tim McDonald

Chester Thompson

Roy Vogt

Larry Perkins

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