CD REVIEW: Benn Bacot - 4Love of Abbey (VOLUME I)
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Benn Bacot
Album: 4Love of Abbey (VOLUME I)
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Vocal Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Sounds Like: Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartmann, Nat King Cole
Weakness: Limited octave range (vocal ability), a few minor pitch issues
Originally Hailing from McComb, Mississippi, Benn's early musical experiences came from singing in the choir of St. Pauls United Methodist Church, and the R&B, Soul and Blues music that was prevalent in the area. Now located in the Bay area, Bacot has recorded and performed with such Bay Area musicians as Jeff Neighbor, & Mark William on Bass; Jim Zimmerman, Vince Lateano, Bob Scott,and Bob Blankenship on drums and percussion; Barry Lloyd, Larry O'leno, Gary Newman, Jason Martineau, John Simon and Dave Austin on piano with whom he has been performing for the last 1 1/2 years at the Savanna Jazz Club along with Chuck Bennett/Bass, Bob Blankenship/Drums & Madaline Duran/Sax,flute. This latest 13 Track CD was released in 2014 and is entitled 4Love of Abbey (volume I), and is a musical tribute to Abbey Lincoln,
The CD kicks things off with “The Music is the Magic” a cool upbeat, vibrant intro piece serving up steady beat, melodic jazz ambience and smooth as silk Jazz Piano/Saxophone and soothing vocals from Bacot. Track 2 “Living Room” is an impressive follow-up statement serving up impressive Jazz Piano, against thought provoking lyrical content and more honey coated vocals from Bacot. Track 3 “The First Song (For Ruth) dishes out a heartfelt vocal piece with eloquent rhythm section and mesmerizing musical flow from Bacot that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. The music itself has a jazz vibe reminiscent of classic Big Band Jazz like Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartmann and a dash of Nat King Cole. As this CD slowly unfolds it’s obvious the players in Bacot’s band are quite accomplished. All horn section touches extremely melodic, the drummer pushes the natural accents perfectly and the silky rhythm section clearly gives this production a solid backbone. Make no bones about it this is classic Vocal Jazz style. What I like the most about this band grooves together – testament to hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. There is a plethora of musical instrumentation featured here including Flute, Saxophone, Trombone, Piano, and amazing Horn Section all built upon an amazing rhythm section. Some pieces even venture into world class vocal jazz and Saloon Jazz. Now turning our attention over to Bacot as for his vocal abilities - he fits perfectly into this Vocal Jazz genera - like a glove. Yep this is clearly where he belongs. His voice goes down smooth and his deep rich, deep Baritone that is to die for. Like the aforementioned; he fills the Jazz space well and defiantly has the vocal jazz look many will gravitate towards. He has a strong likeable appeal as an entertainer. He is also one of those singers that sings straight from the heart. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board. Bacot delivers 13 classic tracks all providing deep, thought provoking wisdom with messages that are uplifting and positive. From thought provoking “Bird Alone” to heartfelt “Left Alone” to striking “Lonely House” to the classic remake ”Brother Can You Spare a Dime” to melodic “Midnight Sun” to jumping “I’m In Love” and grooving “Throw it Away” this CD pretty much has something for everyone. The CD ends with Track 13 ”Should’a Been” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
It’s fair to say Bacot doesn’t possess an elite, world class vocal ability but he does manage to pull this off extremely well within the context of what he can bring to the table. Unfortunately he’s unable to hit some of the higher octave registries due to his somewhat limited range. Bacot nails about 95% of the notes he shoots for, hoverer I did notice a few pitch issues o a few some notes. These are very minor and extremely hard for the normal listener to detect and pick out.
After spending some quality time with Benn Bacot I simply abandoned all hopes of finding any serious flaws. Instead as the CD progressed I became more and more impressed. "4Love of Abbey (VOLUME I)" by Benn Bacot is a world class musical production from start to finish - for this classic vocal style of Jazz music. There’s not a weak song on this entire catalogue period, in fact I tip my hat to Bacot for singing songs straight from the heart and making it work so well within the confines of his vocal ability and personality. These 13 Tracks are timeless gems. The musicianship is first rate, the songs are short and sweet musical experiences. Each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove.