Recorded live at the New York Club in Palm Desert, CA., acoustic guitarist and jazz vocalist Jose Garcia’s Songs for a Lifetime: Live also features a fine band of accompanists: Carlos Rodgarman (piano), Mike Paganini (bass) and Pablo Correa (drums). The band is well-rehearsed, and they don’t fall into any grooves that rely on standard clichés for these jazz, pop and Latin standards. With a powerful sense of both emotion and swing, the band clearly gave a hot show out there in Mojave Desert east of Los Angeles. I can imagine the toes tapping and dancing to the crowd-pleasing “All of Me.” As a live recording, it’s also nice that we don’t hear any background noise, and the applause between cuts is not distracting.
Jose Garcia demonstrates his skill and ability as a top-flight jazz baritone with strength and flexibility in phrasing and sustain. The songs have been covered before, and I’d like to hear Garcia’s original material on a future project. However, we find plenty of sheer enjoyment in the sophisticated presentation of classic ballads like “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “The Shadow of Your Smile.” The former finally elicits some enthusiastic response from the audience for one of Rodgarman’s masterful piano interludes. He’s clearly familiar with the styling of George Shearing. “Besame Mucho” and “Sabor a mi” begin with lean settings that showcase Garcia’s poignant guitar work. Garcia grew up in Tecate, Mexico, and he delivers the goods with plenty of south-of-the-border flair and charisma.
In Steve Allen’s “This Could Be the Start of Something Big,” Garcia closes his debut album with an invitation to give your heart and try romance. So I’d recommend that you “take a chance” and “play your part” by picking up a copy of this album. Songs for a Lifetime: Live is a smartly conceived project with an overall sonorous presentation full of confidence and warmth.Powered by Sidelines