Sarah King And Her Smoking Swing Music
Bruce Von Stiers
I have reviewed music by Alex Levin. He is a great pianist and put together some amazing talent for his trio. But now Alex is just one of three guys who call themselves The Smoke Rings. The trio provides background music for vocalist Sarah King. Collectively, the group is known as Sarah King and The Smoke Rings. They perform music from the great Swing Era. Recently the group released a self-titled album they recorded.
Sarah does the vocals on the album. And she also plays the ukulele. Alex Levin plays the piano. He has several albums out with his own trio. Scott Richie is on bass and Ben Cliness is on drums. Besides playing with Alex before, Ben has his own trio. Scott has had the privilege of playing bass for duets by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. As for Sarah, not only is she a great vocalist, she has starred in the off-Broadway production of Sleep No More.
Sarah and the guys have been performing together since 2010 and had the distinction of being named one of New York's best wedding bands in Style Me Pretty's Little Black Book .
The album has ten songs and a play time of thirty-five minutes. It was released on Alex Levin's label, Alex Levin Music.
Starting things off is an all-time classic swing song. The song is It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing). It is one of my favorite Duke Ellington songs and never fails to bring a smile to my face every time I hear it. Sarah has terrific vocals on the song, light and melodic. And the guys do a bang up job on the piano, bass and drums.
Tea For Two is the second song. Another classic song, this easy tune is extremely well done here.
Moving back into a toe-tapping, hip swinging mood is Jersey Bounce. The song's title says it all. The song just bounces along with fast paced music and wonderful vocals.
Then there is the smile effecting I Won't Dance. This Jerome Kern classic has a great bass solo and terrific vocals.
Soft and gentle is Smoke Rings. Sarah's vocals are light, with just a touch of mischief.
The group tackles another Duke Ellington classic with Caravan. There's a tough drum intro and then fast paced music and sultry vocals by Sarah.
Slowing things down quite a bit, Sarah does a nice job with the Arthur Herzog tune Some Other Spring.
The Gershwin brothers get a turn on the album. Sarah is great on their song, Love Is Here To Stay. The guys do excellent work with the piano, bass and drums on the song.
Another terrific song is I Don't Know Why (I Just Do). I could just imagine Sarah standing in front of a crowd in a club, singing this with a smile on her face and a glint in her eye.
Closing the album is the Hoagy Carmichael classic Up A Lazy River. You can hear a bit of Sarah's ukulele playing in the song. The band plays the song with a rollicking and toe-tapping beat.
It has been said that the band shows great love and respect for the Great American Songbook. From what I heard on the album, that is most definitely true. The songs they chose for the album are some of the best of the swing era. And the band, led by Sarah's vocals, do and excellent job honoring those classic songs.
Sarah King and The Smoke Rings can be purchased through CD Baby, amazon.com or other great online and traditional music retailers.
The official site for Sarah King and The Smoke Rings is http://www.thesmokerings.com/ The site has information about the group and even has a few videos of them performing.
They also have a band page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thesmokerings/
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© 2016 Bruce E Von Stiers