Wednesday, July 20, 2005
By M. Valentine
Jimmy Spencer, vocalist and entertainer, has just released a new CD "Shades of Blue." It is a compilation of something old, something new, some ballads, some jazz, some blues, and songs of love and loneliness. They are rhythms of reflection and reason ... truly superb!
Spencer started his career in Oklahoma, just out of the navy by forming his own band and entering into a long-term contract with the owner of the Cotton Club in Oklahoma City. Harold Austin, leader of a traveling band, persuaded Spencer to give up his band, leave Oklahoma City, and travel with his group as the featured vocalist. After a year with Harold Austin and his group, Spencer moved to California; joined a group called the MultiSounds and worked the Playboy circuit for one year as a member of this group, before deciding to become a single.
He was influenced by the late great Nat King Cole and developed a smooth relaxed style. Even the great Tony Bennett was amazed at Spencer's style and performance, while catching his act at Monteleone's West. From there Spencer's travels took him all over the United States and Canada, performing with some of the top jazz greats, such as Phineas Newborn Jr., Senator Eugene J. Wright, Harry "Sweats" Edison, Dolo Coker Trio, Joe Parnello, pianist and conductor for Frank Sinatra, to name a few. Currently he is working with "The Karen Hernandez Trio."
Spencer, with his deep velvet tones, is truly a balladeer extraordinaire. On his new CD he is warm and vibrant in his delivery. He gives his listeners lush romantic ballads with a sophisticated lyric to a down-to-earth lament of the blues. His warm romantic style and deep masculine gentleness ignite each song with imagination. The musicians spoke a statement of excellence that really was effective and compelling. A rare combination of souls and soul!
On "Shades of Blue," Spencer works with Hernandez, his long time friend and accompanist. She performs keyboard on all tracks, did all arrangements as well as composer (lyrics and music) on two of the titles. Also featured are the talents of Lou Shoch, electric bass, and Jack LeCompte, drums. Joining Spencer and the trio on this exciting new work are two world renewed musicians, John Heard, acoustic bass and Ray Armando, percussion. "Shades of Blue" is a CD to reckon with. It's great jazz and blues at their finest. You will not be disappointed!