Dennis Angel - Timeless Grooves

Dennis Angel
Dennis Angel Timeless Grooves.jpg
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Whoever coined the phrase ‘don’t quit your day job’ probably couldn’t have envisioned someone like Dennis Angel coming along. A native New Yorker and trumpet player who studied under the tutelage of the acclaimed William Vacchiano, music was an early love and easy passion for Mr. Angel, but he opted for law school (he presently practices out of his major studios-serving law firm)and treated music as a hobby until 2009, when his self-written and recorded tongue-in-cheek ode to the stock market crash, “The Wall Street Recession Time Blues,” garnered considerable coverage and airplay. When he tried his luck with other singles and succeeded (“Dizzy Izzy,” “Daddy, Can I Drive Your Car” and “I Need Smooth Jazz” ), Mr. Angel recruited the production prowess of Jason Miles (Luther Vandross, Miles Davis, Whitney Houston), assembled several other veteran musicians and has created Timeless Grooves, an enjoyable and animatedly-modern tribute to classically-rendered jazz.

Whoever coined the phrase ‘don’t quit your day job’ probably couldn’t have envisioned someone like Dennis Angel coming along. A native New Yorker and trumpet player who studied under the tutelage of the acclaimed William Vacchiano, music was an early love and easy passion for Mr. Angel, but he opted for law school (he presently practices out of his major studios-serving law firm)and treated music as a hobby until 2009, when his self-written and recorded tongue-in-cheek ode to the stock market crash, “The Wall Street Recession Time Blues,” garnered considerable coverage and airplay. When he tried his luck with other singles and succeeded (“Dizzy Izzy,” “Daddy, Can I Drive Your Car” and “I Need Smooth Jazz” ), Mr. Angel recruited the production prowess of Jason Miles (Luther Vandross, Miles Davis, Whitney Houston), assembled several other veteran musicians and has created Timeless Grooves, an enjoyable and animatedly-modern tribute to classically-rendered jazz.

Thanks to Mr. Miles’ structuring, an assortment of skilled players (bassist Amanda Ruzz, Drummer Brian Dunne, saxaphonist Gottfried Stoger, acoustic pianist Joel Mofsenson and Nick Moroch, Dean Brown, Will Bernard and Romero Lubambo on guitar) and Mr. Angel’s versatility as a trumpeter and composer (he wrote all but two songs on the ten-track set), this debut is a remarkably well-crafted one, kicking off with the already heavily-rotated up-tempo, “Forever Funk,” the gentle and gliding groove of “The Breeze” and a nimbly-nuanced mid-tempo jam, “When Love Is In The Air.” And just as he’s able to plug the right amount of bluster and energy to the straight-forward danceable ditties (“Vegas Vibe” and “Rio On My Mind”), Mr. Angel also knows when to welcome influence from Generation Next, allowing his teenage daughter Rebecca to sing lead on the classic “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and “A Song In Harmony,” which he co-penned with her; the latter also showcases a deftly delicate vocal performance to boot: “My mama told me ‘be good, my papa told me ‘be strong’/my sister said to ‘follow your heart where it may go.’ So this is what I’m dreaming, this is what I’m hoping, that life turns out to be a song in harmony…”

As minor as the flaws are, they have to be mentioned, and they both involve the participation of baritone vocalist DeForest Raphael, who may be force within his field of expertise, but comes across as self-conscious and stilted on the tracks on which he is featured: “From Bebop To Hip Hop” is the most tolerable of the two, since he at least sounds relaxed (if not totally at ease with the medium), but “I Did All This,” which is meant to capture the pioneering spirit of American resilience, veers from an air of bravery to doubling as a song of uplift, which keeps it from accomplishing either goal and feels strained as a result.

Those distractions are truly minor in the context of the album, which is, by any standard, a real success  Mr. Angel can anticipate more well-deserved notoriety as his secondary skill set takes him away from that law practice to perform Timeless Grooves for a growing and grateful audience.  Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
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