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New album from vocalist Marty Elkins

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    Posted: 28 Dec 2020 at 5:06pm

On TIS AUTUMN, New York jazz and blues vocalist MARTY ELKINS teams up with veteran bassist MIKE RICHMOND for a delicious duo set of jazz standards. This is Elkins’ fifth CD featuring her distinctive, authentic voice crooning modern, fresh renditions of tunes by some of the greatest jazz composers of the 20th Century. ‘TIS AUTUMN is set for release on January 15, 2021 on Elktone Records.

Elkins has been honing her chops since the 1980s when she came to New York City and sat in with Max Kaminsky’s band at Jimmy Ryan’s, a popular venue for traditional jazz and the last surviving jazz club on 52nd Street. She performs regularly in and around the New York area, singing in some of the hippest clubs in town, like Mezzrow and 55 Bar. If you don’t come early to one of her shows, you’ll probably have to squeeze into an SRO spot or stand outside to listen to the music wafting out the front door. Jazz writer Paul Freeman of Pop Culture Classics has said, “There’s a captivating richness and fluidity to Marty Elkins’ vocal style. Her marvelous melding of jazz and blues has a classic feel, yet her performances are fabulously fresh-sounding.”

Elkins met Richmond about six years ago when she was asked to sit in on a gig Richmond was playing. Richmond has performed with some of the top names in jazz, including Stan Getz, with whom he toured with for around 30 years, plus Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, Lee Konitz, Gil Evans, Pat Metheny, and many more. He participated in the Miles Davis and Quincy Jones-collaborative concert in Montreux, Switzerland, which became Davis' final performance. He subsequently replaced Charles Mingus in the Mingus Dynasty. Richmond is mainly a jazz bassist, but he’s adept at many styles, and he’s been a favorite accompanist for vocalists like Bette Midler, Lainie Kazan, Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Eddie Jefferson, Janis Siegel, Chet Baker, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Richie Havens, and more.

Not only a master musician, Richmond is also one of the top educators in bass technique in the country. He has received a Teacher of the Year award from NYU, and his bass method book, “Modern Walking Bass Technique (Ped Xing Music),” is used in over 300 universities and school systems internationally. At a break on the gig, Elkins and Richmond immediately hit it off when they got into a discussion about improvising. Since then, they have been working together in a variety of band configurations.

Although the 10 songs on TIS AUTUMN were all written between 1926 and 1947, they have weathered the test of time. And in the capable hands of Elkins and Richmond, the songs have a fresh, contemporary edge. According to Elkins, “Singing with just bass accompaniment gives me a lot of freedom to play with the melody and phrasing. And Mike provides such a solid, swinging, and melodic groove, you really don’t miss having other instruments.”

Elkins and Richmond have played most of these songs on gigs. They like to play some of them at the appropriate season or time of the year, like the title tune, “’Tis Autumn,” which they always perform during the Fall season, or “My Mother’s Eyes,” which they always play on Mother’s Day.

The duo opens the CD with “Old Devil Moon,” written by Burton Lane with lyrics by Yip Harburg for the 1947 musical, “Finian's Rainbow.” Duke Ellington wrote “In a Mellow Tone” in 1939 and it’s one of the most popular compositions in jazz. Nat King Cole first popularized “’Tis Autumn,” which was written by Henry Nemo in 1941. “When the Red, Red Robin Comes, Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along” is the oldest song in this collection, written in 1926 by Harry Johnson. Al Jolson recorded the song that year, making the tune an instant hit. Richmond doubles on cello on two tunes, “Stairway to the Stars” and “My Mother’s Eyes.” “Stairway to the Stars,” written by Matty Malneck and Frank Signorelli with lyrics by Mitchell Parish, was a big hit in 1939 with recordings by Glenn Miller, Kay Kyser, and Jimmy Dorsey. "Lullaby of the Leaves," by composer Bernice Petkere and lyricist Joe Young, is a Tin Pan Alley song first performed in 1932. It has been recorded frequently, with lyrics and as an instrumental. Fats Waller wrote "Honeysuckle Rose" in 1929 for an Off-Broadway revue. Waller's 1934 recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. “I Ain’t Got Nothing but the Blues” was composed by Duke Ellington in 1937, and “All or Nothing at All,” composed in 1939 by Arthur Altman with lyrics by Jack Lawrence, was a huge hit for Frank Sinatra in 1943, although he recorded it in 1939. Columbia Records re-issued the tune during a musicians’ strike that lasted from 1942 to 1944.

Marty Elkins’ affinity for these gems and her straight-ahead, soulful interpretations imbue these songs with a timeless feel, while Mike Richmond conjures an entire orchestra with his bass. The spaciousness of the voice/bass pairing is intimate but resonates with a deep musicality that can only be realized in the hands of masters like Elkins and Richmond.

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‘TIS AUTUMN will be available January 15, 2021 on all platforms.

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