Friday, August 09, 2019

Augie Haas Dream a Little Dream

Augie Haas
Dream a Little Dream
Playtime Music

Haas is a versatile singer, trumpeter composer and educator in New York currently in the orchestra for the show Aladdin. His background includes being in many big bands including those of Harry Connick Jr, Maria Schneider, Ryan Truesdell (the Gil Evans Project) the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and the Birdland Big Band. The present recording has him performing several standards along with several doo-wop standards. He is backed by a 15-piece string orchestra and a rhythm section that includes pianist Carmen Staaf.

Haas is more of a crooner with a soothing quality, who also invests a definite personality into these songs. His trumpet playing has a similar attractiveness employing the trumpet's middle register for his lyrical solos. While some will be familiar with the title track from Cass Elliot's recording, it does go back quite a period and is an alluring opening track. An instrumental rendition of the Beatles' classic "Blackbird" follows with some deft piano from Staaf along with the sweetening provided by the strings.

Among the more notable selections is "Georgia on My Mind," with an expressive trumpet that extends to the upper ranges of the instrument. "Will You Still Love Me" is based on the Shirelles recording. Staaf contributes some funky organ and a short piano solo in support of Haas' vocal. "I Only Have Eyes For You" dates back to the 1930s, but was a hit for The Flamingos. Haas' genial singing and muted trumpet results in an alluring rendition. More charm is evident on the swinging instrumental version of "Love Me Tender," especially when Haas starts playing without a mute. Of course, there are limitations to Haas' vocal approach as on "Stand By Me," where he lacks the passion of Ben E King's original. In contrast, he is more successful with The Five Stairsteps "Ooh Child."

Augie Haas has provided us with some entertaining performances of well-known songs of the past few decades. Perhaps not every cover on this succeeds, however overall there is an appeal for listeners here. It should be mentioned that the use of an orange color type on the brown background on the album packaging makes the acknowledgments and other matters unreadable.

I received my review copy from a publicist.


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