Right Groove Records
San Francisco based vocalist Nicolas Bearde has hit the musical home run with his new recording "Invitation." This was produced by Nat Adderley Jr., who plays piano on most of this with a variety of others present, the best known being saxophonist Vincent Herring who is heard on 3 of the 9 songs. Its a nice selection of standards that should be familiar to most listeners including "My One and Only Love," "Lush Life," "Nature Boy,'" I Want To Talk About You," "Maiden Voyage" and "Save Your Love For Me."
From the first note of the swinging Lerner-Lane standard "Come Back To Me" to the closing moments of "Save Your Love For Me," the warmth of Bearde's voice along with his phrasing impresses. The likes of Billy Eckstine, Al Hibbler, Johnny Hartman, and Freddie Cole are suggested by Bearde who places his own stamp on these performances. The delight of his treatment of Jobim's "Dindi," is followed by the romanticism of "My One and Only Love," and while it is inevitable comparisons with be made to the Hartman-Coltrane classic recording, Bearde's first-rate rendition (and Adderley Jr is marvelous in his accompaniment) stands on its own. Herring's adds some choice alto to the fresh performance of "Nature Boy."
Bearde also more than capably sings "Lush Life," another performance that will inevitably be compared to Johnny Hartman, but again the manner he delivers the lyrics set against just Adderley Jr.'s piano stands out. I have not heard lyrics to Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage," so Bearde backed by a piano trio (one of two selections Adderley Jr. is not heard on) was a surprise and pleasure to listen to. This performance may be the highlight of these marvelous vocals.
I received my copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the May-June 2016 issue of Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 366). Here is Bearde performing "Lush Life."