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New York

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Album Review

On his sixth studio album, Ron Kaplan continues to champion pre- and non-rock popular music as performed in a jazzy manner by such predecessors as Frank Sinatra and Mel Tormé. Assembling a thematic collection of songs about New York, however, he was wise to leave out the late Sinatra signature song "New York, New York" (that is to say, the 1977 movie theme that begins, "Start spreading the news"), except for a quote thrown in by pianist Larry Dunlap at one point. As a singer, the smooth-voiced Kaplan is actually closer to Steve Lawrence than he is to his heroes, which becomes clear when he tries the Rodgers & Hart standard "Manhattan" at the end of the disc and gives it none of the flair that Tormé used to. Still, the album is a thoroughly competent effort, and Kaplan has done some digging to come up with rarely used lyrics, such as those for "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid," and introductory verses. His acoustic five-piece backup band provides excellent accompaniment, with trumpeter Erik Jekabson and reed player Noel Jewkes taking plenty of solos. As is usually the case with this sort of effort at re-creation, it would be more impressive if heard live in concert than it is on disc, where the comparisons with Tormé and others inevitably kick in. But Kaplan shouldn't mind that. As the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization American Songbook Preservation Society, he takes as his mission statement "to preserve our cultural treasure known as the Great American Songbook by performing this music at home and abroad as Ambassadors of Song." In this sense, his work is largely a tribute effort to songwriters, and it is enough to be showing their work off to advantage in the present day, not so much to compete with those who have gone before.

Biography

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Traditional pop singer Ron Kaplan was born in Hollywood, CA, the son of a professional trumpeter who played in jazz bands. His early influences were the pop singers of the 1950s, including Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. His first instrument was the drums, although he later played piano and guitar. After studying at an acting workshop, he attended Valley College in Los Angeles, from which he graduated with an associate in arts degree in 1976. After college, he turned to songwriting and performing....
Full Bio
New York, Ron Kaplan
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Pop
  • Released: Aug 29, 2007

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