Al Oxenhandler’s new CD is titled Something’s Gotta Give, but it could easily be called Al Swings Gently. The St. Louis vocalist grooves gracefully through a stellar set of late-night tunes, featuring the works of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer.
Most selections are mid-tempo numbers that are perfect for Oxenhandler’s easy, confident delivery. He shows his good taste with the selection of such timeless tunes as Porter’s "Under My Skin," Cy Coleman and Carolyn Lay’s "The Best Is Yet To Come" and Jobim’s "Quiet Nights."
Sure, there’s a bit of nostalgia to Oxenhandler’s smooth style, but that’s not a bad thing when re-doing these soothing numbers. The veteran performer, however, is more than a throwback. The CD includes a couple of original songs, including his playful "I Can Take A Hint." It’s a catchy big band-type number that features organ and horns. The accompaniment throughout the album is tasteful and reserved.
Porter’s "It’s All Right With Me" is performed by Oxenhandler with only Dave Truncoso’s acoustic bass. It serves as a fitting showcase for the singer’s warm voice and fine timing. Oxenhandler also delivers a cover of James Taylor’s "Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," which in his hands sounds like it was lifted straight out of the Great American Songbook rather than from a 70s pop record.
Something’s Gotta Give isn’t groundbreaking, but it is a sweet reminder about how good these songs can be. Listening to Al Oxenhandler is a pleasant way to spend an evening.