Chronicling romantic love and the gamut of emotions it stirs, jazz singer Rob Keiter debuted today with the release of The Glory of Love on the San Diego-based Sketchin Records label. The dozen jazz standards and contemporary love songs that foster hope and healing were produced by Amber and Rob Whitlock, and feature Grammy-winner Randy Brecker playing trumpet or flugelhorn on four selections. With radio stations across the nation adding a trio of tracks from the album to their playlists - "This Nearly Was Mine," "Laughter In The Rain" and "What The World Needs Now” – music critics are praising the disc Keiter recorded that became a form of therapy while he recovered from the dissolution of a twenty-three-year marriage.
The Whitlock’s assembled accomplished musicians from both East and West to back Keiter, a talented scat singer who considers himself as a musician, not just a vocalist. Along with Rob Whitlock on piano, the core group consisted of acoustic bassist Trey Henry, drummer Cliff Almond and guitarist Pat Kelley. In addition to Brecker’s warmth, grace and elegance, horns were provided by Wayne Bergeron (trumpet and flugelhorn), Andy Martin (trombone) and John Rekevics (saxes and flute). A gifted vocalist in her own right, Amber Whitlock dueted with Keiter on two songs (“The Glory of Love” and “You Are My Heaven”).
While rehearsing and recording the songs that comprise The Glory of Love, Keiter worked through his grief and discovered new hope. He still believes in love, which is why he decided to record only love songs. United, the songs on the record form a musical meditation upon what Keiter calls “the circle of love” - the desire for love, first inklings of love, falling in love, love’s devotion, love’s failure, hope for new love and the celebration of love. Keiter, who found his true voice after being overcome by emotion while recording the album opener, “This Nearly Was Mine,” which ended up setting the tone for the entire CD, is already looking forward to recording his second collection of love songs.
The Glory of Love is available now through Keiter’s website (www.keitermusicservices.com), Amazon and iTunes. Below are excerpts from some of the early album reviews.
JazzTimes: “Keiter, whose dusky voice has a distinct Kenny Rankin quality, opens with the powerful Rodgers and Hammerstein heartbreaker ‘This Nearly Was Mine,’ from South Pacific. The mood then turns a shade brighter for the first of two Stevie Wonder selections, a shimmering ‘Looking for Another Pure Love.’ (A soaringly joyful rendering of Wonder’s ‘You Are My Heaven’ closes the album).
“Bacharach and David’s wistful ‘Alfie,’ their wishful ‘What the World Needs Now,’ Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand’s deeply romantic ‘What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,’ the Harold Arlen classic ‘Get Happy’ and the title track (featuring Amber as Keiter’s estimable vocal partner) are all navigated with expert skill. Lennon and McCartney’s rarely covered ‘For No One’ is a particular highlight, handled with a delicately urgent ache that ideally captures the lyric’s pensive melancholy.
“The biggest surprise is, however, how masterfully Keiter reinvents Neil Sedaka’s rather sappy ‘Laughter In the Rain.’ What begins as a straight-ahead balladic reading opens up into a rapidly accelerating swinger, complete with an impressively accomplished scat chorus, then settles into an easy mid-tempo. The sole original, co-written by the Whitlocks, is entitled ‘Grateful For a Pleasant Trip,’ and delightfully examines the emotional voyage from heartache to romantic regeneration. Again Keiter contributes a notable scat solo.
“At age 52, Keiter is a latecomer to the jazz vocalist fold. The Glory of Love does, however, suggest a potentially rosy future if he decides to carry on. As is evident from start to finish, he was extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such excellent players. His reconnection with the Whitlock’s was equally providential. Clearly, they are gifted producers with acute jazz instincts. Here’s hoping that they and Keiter soon reunite in the studio.”
Smooth Jazz Daily: “’Looking For Another Pure Love’ was composed by Stevie Wonder…Rob performs the song with great nonchalance. Rob Whitlock's brilliant piano play transfers the song into the jazz realm…‘Laughter in the Rain’...is also re-natured in the jazz spirit. Rob showcases his skills as a scat singer that he developed during his time at the University of Texas . Michel Legand's masterpiece ‘What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life’ was composed for the movie The Happy Ending…Rob Keiter's rendition excels with finest instrumentation. ‘Get Happy’ is a…jazz classic destined for Rob's scat escapade…Burt Bacharach's ‘What The World Needs Now’ finds a more traditional treat by Keiter. Remarkable Brecker trumpet solo. ‘You Are My Heaven’ is another Stevie Wonder rendition with an astounding contemporary jazz arrangement. A worthy completion of this fine collection of love songs.”
Jazz Weekly: “Keiter’s got a rich tenor/baritone sound to his voice - nice and relaxed, never pushing the issue…Look out for this guy.
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