Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Debut album from the two-time Grammy® nominated jazz trumpeter for Sony Music Masterworks. Brönner is Germany's best-selling jazz artist. Featuring new arrangements of songs from the great American jazz songbook and two original songs written by Brönner.
The Good Life is the debut album on Sony Music Masterworks from renowned jazz trumpeter, Till Brönner, Germany's best known and best-selling jazz artist. The album is conceived for relaxed moments and draws inspiration form the great American jazz songbook, including new arrangements of works made famous by Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and many more. Along with his masterful trumpet playing, The Good Life also features Brönner singing on eight of the tracks and includes two original songs written by the two-time Grammy® nominee. Featuring an all-star band - John Clayton/bass, Anthony Wilson/guitar, Larry Goldings/piano and Jeff Hamilton/drums - The Good Life is an intimate, pared-down, back-to-basics tour de force and testimony to the unique power of jazz to amplify and enrich the most beautiful and poignant moments of our lives. Till Brönner holds an unrivalled position as Germany's most successful jazz musician. His exceptional international career sees him perform, sing, produce, compose, arrange, record and collaborate with the world's greatest artists from the jazz world and beyond. Throughout his stellar career, he has worked with great musicians such as Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, Tony Bennett, Annie Lennox, Michael Brecker, Al Di Meola, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole and many more. Guest appearances on Brönner's past albums include a wide range of internationally renowned artists such as Gregory Porter, Arturo Sandoval, Aimee Mann, Sergio Mendes, Kurt Elling, Madeleine Peyroux and Milton Nascimento.
Personnel: Till Brönner (vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn); Anthony Wilson (guitar); Larry Goldings (piano); Jeff Hamilton (drums).
Cutting standards isn't a new thing for German jazz chameleon Till Brönner. His 1995 debut album, Generations of Jazz, contained fine renditions of "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "I Want to Be Happy." Since then he's recorded classic tunes of all kinds -- from pop and soul to Brazilian and film gems -- in a wide variety of settings.
The Good Life marks the trumpeter and vocalist's return to straight-ahead jazz after a self-titled outing that paid homage to CTI in 2012, and 2014's Movie Album, which treated film themes as contemporary jazz numbers. This 13-song set contains 11 standards and two originals. Brönner surrounded himself with a crack band of sidemen -- pianist Larry Goldings, guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton, and drummer Jeff Hamilton -- at the legendary Ocean Way studio in Los Angeles with Dutch producer Ruud Jacobs. The vibe throughout is airy, thoughtful, and relaxed (the album's subtitle is "Music for Peaceful Moments"); the charts are direct but not lightweight. The opener is a reading of Sasha Distel's and Jack Reardon's title track that reveals his gentle, warm horn in the melody atop a lithe, brushed drum kit groove accentuated by Clayton's walking bassline, liquid fills from Wilson, and Goldings' intimate accents. In his most authoritative vocal performances on record, Brönner still directly references Chet Baker's singing, but the phrasing nuances of Michael Franks and Bob Dorough are reflected in his delivery of the breezy yet swinging renditions of "Come Dance with Me," the bossa-tinged interpretation of Irving Berlin's "Change Partners," and the straight-up fingerpopping "I May Be Wrong"-- with a choice solo by Wilson. On his own "O Que Resta" (an instrumental) Brönner frames his own lyrical playing in the long shadow cast by Miles Davis during his Gil Evans period. Goldings' break is close, humid, and gorgeous. "I'll Be Seeing You" is an iconic Billie Holiday number. Brönner even sings until the midway point -- long after the band establishes a lithe, loping groove, and he delivers a fine flügelhorn solo. When he begins to vocalize, the focus has shifted and it's a clever addendum. More ambitious is the read of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," inseparably associated with Frank Sinatra. The band's collective harmony establishes it as a nocturnal nursery rhyme. Clayton's illustrative bassline is carefully colored by Wilson as brushed snare and sparse, shimmering piano chords hold the frame. Brönner employs a halting, yet utterly lyrical vocal, delivering an utterly unique take that doesn't even reflect on Sinatra's. The only thing that doesn't hold up here is the leader's "Her Smile." The calypso-cum-samba hybrid is hip, but the lyric is trite compared to everything else. That's a minor complaint, though. This is a romantic and "light" record for sure, and it's one that shows Brönner's assuredness in reinterpreting the repertoire with grace and sophistication. ~ Thom Jurek