E. J. Decker | Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project

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Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project

by E. J. Decker

A tribute to baritone great Arthur Prysock, honoring the storytelling spirit of Prysock with striking arrangements, and a deep, lush sound. Decker creates music with a deeply human heartbeat, echoing Prysock’s unique example.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
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  Song Share Time Download
1. You Had Better Change Your Ways
3:26 $0.99
2. Autumn in New York
5:11 $0.99
3. What a Difference a Day Made
3:34 $0.99
4. Blue Velvet
5:12 $0.99
5. Why Can't You Behave?
6:33 $0.99
6. Since I Fell for You
5:40 $0.99
7. It's Too Late (Baby Too Late)
3:51 $0.99
8. When You Walked in the Room
5:35 $0.99
9. He Loves and She Loves
3:46 $0.99
10. When I Fall in Love
2:41 $0.99
11. On the Street Where You Live
3:36 $0.99
12. I Could Write a Book
4:31 $0.99
13. (I Don't Stand) a Ghost of a Chance
5:29 $0.99
14. September in the Rain
2:54 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Jazz baritone E. J. Decker turns his attention to one of his key influences, the late Arthur Prysock, on Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project. Joined by a versatile band, baritone saxophonist Claire Daly, trombonist Elizabeth Frascoia, pianist Les Kurtz, guitarist Chris Bergson, bassist Saadi Zain and drummer Tom Melito, Decker takes the measure of a fellow baritone whose round, emotive sound subtly helped to shape American music from the mid-’40s through the ’70s.

It was the late Mark Murphy, briefly a teacher of Decker’s, who urged him to undertake a Prysock project. “He understood that nobody had done a proper tribute, that this was an underrepresented, under-served artist. I realized that Prysock had been a major influence on me for a goodly amount of time, and there was more to that relationship than I’d given myself credit for.”

Decker first encountered Prysock indirectly through his father, a former big band singer, who sang briefly with Tommy Dorsey's band before Frank Sinatra joined it. After his father's music career dried up, he opened a luncheonette. A young E. J. worked there and the two would spend the day turning the shop's radio dial between his father’s preferred mature fare and E. J.'s favored rock and pop stations.

One evening while closing up, his dad's station still played and “this deep voice came out,” Decker recalls. “It was Prysock. A big, booming man’s voice. It just stopped me in my tracks. Here was a real guy talking about real stuff. He wasn’t just blowing through a tune, he was telling a story. He came up through the old R&B pipeline, where they’re used to telling real stories about real people.”

It’s this aspect of Prysock’s legacy that Decker seeks to highlight on Bluer Than Velvet. The program includes Prysock hits, both well-known standards and songs that only he recorded. But it also includes songs Prysock did not record: Cole Porter’s “Why Can’t You Behave,” the Gershwins’ “He Loves and She Loves,” Lerner & Loewe’s “On the Street Where You Live.” “On these,” Decker muses, “I found I was taking the same approach that I heard him take, that in essence he taught me. Though he never sang them himself, they still fit right in.”

Also the album's arranger, Decker harnesses the talents of his band mates to create intuitive, unusual arrangements — note the drum-and-voice duo intro on “Why Can’t You Behave” and the stark bass-and-voice passages on “When I Fall in Love” and “A Ghost of a Chance.” “I’ve always loved layering a tune, building it from beginning to end,” he explains of his approach, which leaves space for the players to inhabit and breathe.

At its core, Bluer Than Velvet is an album of love songs and passage-of-time themes. It’s about “love in all its guises, and all of its time frames,” Decker explains. “It’s a reminiscence album: there’s a lot of looking back; there’s a lot of time either behind us or also to come.”

Channeling the lush and romantic quality of the Prysock sound while departing from Prysock’s versions in many original ways, Decker and company make music with a deeply human heartbeat, echoing Prysock’s unique example.



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