It’s not very often that we come across a new male Jazz vocalist. Then comes Jonathan Karrant crashing onto the scene. Sure, he’s been around but he has not gotten the attention he deserves. His 2021 album Shadows Fall should change all of that.
But here’s the thing, accompanying Karrant is pianist Joshua White and he is extraordinary. I’m telling you, these guys belong together and I hope to heaven that this is not a one-off collaboration. The 13 tracks of Shadows Fall are not shopworn Jazz standards but also contemporary songs by Macy Gray (I Try) and James Taylor (Your Smiling Face) and others. Then there are the Jazz classics like Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life and Cole Porter’s So in Love and Johnny Mercer’s I Thought about You. Winners one and all. Karrant and White deliver brilliantly on those standards that have been done by the best.
Through it all, however, Karrant and White take ownership of these songs and bend them to their own vision. The result is an exquisite album of lush and lyrical beauty. I listened again and again to focus on what these two artists were doing. Both Karrant and White are impressive.
You may hear shades of Kurt Elling and that should not come as a surprise, seeing how Karrant was mentored by Elling. Then there are moments that Karrant puts one in mind of Gino Vannelli at his best. And that’s a good thing.
Richard Rodgers’ My Romance is a standout on the album. White is brilliant on piano and Karrant bounces through the lyrics with joyful delivery. Also deserving of special attention Johnny Frigo’s Detour Ahead and Macy Gray’s I Try. Touching and fascinating.
Guy Wood’s My One and Only Love just steals the show for me. Both Karrant and White are spot on and this already-irreplaceable treasure is rendered priceless by both of these artists. Karrant’s sometimes groaning, sometimes breathless delivery is excellent and White just nails it.
The album closes with Being Me (Abbey Lincoln) is gorgeous. The song itself is a masterpiece and Karrant and White do no damage to the beauty of the song. Indeed, they enhance it with their own interpretation.
Jonathan Karrant and Joshua White are masterful at interpreting their chosen pieces. The emotion, the intelligent, the understanding of these artists leave nothing to be desired. The album is a must-have.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl
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