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The voice of jazz vocalist Phillip Manuel is described as smooth, soothing, sophisticated, and soulful. It is all that and more. The elegant style of Phillip Manuel fits in well with the venues where listeners tend to find him: classy hotels and clubs in his native New Orleans and around the world, as well as events such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Satchmo Festival, gigging with jazz greats like Terence Blanchard and Bill Summers.
Manuel has brought that elegant touch to many a performance with Blanchard, culling musical gems from jazz standards to gospel tunes. With Summers, he worked on an Essence of Kwanzaa CD, and has joined the percussionist's wildly popular Los Hombres Calientes as a backup vocalist.
Manuel has several CD releases that showcase his talents. Time for Love was recorded in 1995. It features jazz standards made famous by fellow crooner Nat "King" Cole, such as "Route 66" and "Sweet Lorraine." There's a nod to pop music, with James Taylor's "Fire and Rain." But the Duke Ellington big band tune "I'm Beginning to See the Light" is perhaps the best fit for Manuel's suave voice and manner. The following year's Heart to Heart CD is similar in quality and feel: intimate and seductive.
Manuel released Love Happened to Me in 2000, featuring his signature smooth style on Ellington and Gershwin tunes. Several pieces, including the title track, are written by Manuel, and he sings them with subtlety and feeling. Perhaps the best performance on the recording is "If I Were a Bell." With a vocal instrument as perfect in pitch and clarity as a bell, Manuel sings that song with authority. The recording was made at the venerable Columns Hotel in New Orleans. Manuel is ably assisted by the bass of James Singleton and the saxophone of Tony Dagradi in what is an altogether enjoyable musical experience. That is what Phillip Manuel does best: put his listeners at ease and add to the enjoyment of the moment.