I have no superlatives to adequately describe the excellence of this album. With a good deal of the media attention in jazz circles surrounding the release of Jane Monheit’s mildly disappointing new release "Come Dream With Me", along comes Brienn Perry with an album that shows the neophytes how standards are supposed to be sung.
Perry, a fixture among the Chicago jazz scene and the featured lead vocalist in the Woody Herman Orchestra and Chicago Jazz Orchestra, has released an album of tastefully arranged songs that fit his honey-roasted voice like a broken-in baseball glove. Perry’s alto trombone work throughout "Positively" is a perfect fit for his voice; it’s range and rich timbre, like Perry’s voice, is limited only by Perry’s imagination, which is vast.
"Positively" is full of the very standards that make Monheit and Diana Krall the darlings of critics across the country, but full of a personality and emotional connection to the songs that both of those singers lack. Perry can swing as evidenced on the opening track, a toe-tapping cover of Cole Porter’s "What Is This Thing Called Love?", or croon a standard like Johnny Mercer’s "I Remember You" with equal aplomb. The Cahn/DePaul standard "Teach Me Tonight" and Percy Mayfield’s "Please Send Me Somebody To Love" are sung in a blues that are "hi-minded nostalgic and gully low", to quote Perry. His alto trombone solos on the Porter classic "All Of You", "The Days Of Wine And Roses", and "Make Someone Happy" are so full of life and originality they could carry the songs by themselves.
Brienn Perry is a singer in the vein of Joe Williams. He is a singer who knows how to fit the song around his own abilities. Perry makes no wrong moves on "Positively". Coupled with Allen Hoist’s "Just Before Spring", my record collection just got enriched immeasurably.