May 19, 2018
It’s a great joy for me to find recordings that I’ve not heard before. Maybe they are vintage, maybe brand new but from small labels or self-released. There are a number of blogs much better than mine in doing this kind of crate-digging, especially Marc Myers’ JazzWax. Check it out now!
It took singer E.J. Decker’s latest release - Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project – to introduce me to the music of Arthur Prysock. From 1994 until the late-Eighties, this deep-voiced singer released hit singles and more than forty albums, including exception releases with the Count Basie and Buddy Johnson Orchestras. He sang jazz, country, gospel and even had a stray disco hit. At the age of 63, he picked up his first two Grammy nominations.I was surprised to learn it was his silky smooth tones that sang the Löwenbräu” beer commercial (“Tonight is kind of special…tonight, tonight, let it be Löwenbräu.” He passed away in 1997, having retired to Hamilton, Bermuda.
One listen to E.J.’s voice – a deep, mellow, resonant instrument – and you can see why Arthur Prysock would be a musical influence for him. Coming from a family with musical ties – his dad briefly sang with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra – Decker spent hours listening to his brother’s Rock and R&B and his Dad’s Jazz albums, eventually finding his own voice as a singer. Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project allows him to pay homage to an unfortunately overlooked artist.
In the New York scene E.J. may be as well known for producing and performing in The September Concert: The Heart of Jazz for 9/11, an annual free concert dedicated to the memory and spirit of those lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11. Hundreds of top jazz musicians have performed over the ten years Decker presented the concert.
Podcast 620 is my conversation with E.J., featuring tunes from Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project including “On the Street Where You Live” and “Autumn in New York.”