Vocal Madness (featuring Richie Cole)
What a wonderful swinging affair this is. Music that is full of joy, yet has that undercurrent of virtuosity that only comes from a dedication and countless hours of practice at ones craft, only at the end to make it all so natural and easy…. From start to finish this is serious music making that communicates on all levels, and while bringing a smile to the face serves to remind us just what is that we love so much about this wonderful sound we call jazz.Nick Lea, JazzViews.net
Alto sax great Richie Cole’s latest project is an admirable collaboration with the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet. The singers are a classy throwback to the vocal groups of the 1950s although a tad hipper than most… While the singers are fine, blending together well and displaying an attractive group sound, it is especially gratifying to hear Richie Cole. He still has a wonderful tone, superb technique, and his brand of bebop wit. Whether it is a revival of the wistful “Tokyo Rose Sings The Blues,” a feature for the singers on the uptempo “Take Me Away” or a tribute to Eddie Jefferson (“He Was The Cat”) which adds four horns, Vocal Madness is a delight.Scott Yanow, LA Jazz
UPTOWN VOCAL JAZZ QUARTET with RICHIE COLE/Vocal Madness: Some things happen organically in the strangest ways. The vet sax man that was one of Manhattan Transfer’s secret weapons stumbled upon the DC vocal quartet and flipped. The cross pollination began as he started picking up where he left off with a few of the balls he was juggling that dropped through no fault of his own. Having the crew riff on his signature “I Love Lucy” treatment and other things just made it flow more. Almost like a hidden time piece that escaped from the vaults after hiding in a corner for years, this killer jazz vocal set hits all the right notes and will be tickling your fancy before you know what’s happened. Killer stuff so thoroughly in the pocket, hearing almost isn’t believing. It’s that hot.Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher, Midwest Record
“Richie Cole with the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet is like sprinkles on ice cream, makes a good thing even better with Vocal Madness! There are a plethora of vocal groups working the jazz scene that simply bang out some old school standards with little originality and minimal soul. Vocal Madness is a breath of fresh air with tight harmonies drawn from a brilliant color palette of sound and harmonic texture. The vast majority of the release are original compositions with arrangements that are seemingly hand crafted for each member. The presence of legendary saxophonist Richie Cole simply raises the bar and UVJQ responds in kind. There is a warm rich organic sound that transcends the traditional expectations. The vibrant pop of the swing found in “Take Me Away” is the perfect compliment to the exquisite ballad “DC Farewell.” This is not a release of swing for the sake of swing but a harmonic exploration of vocal possibilities with tunes that are remarkably personal and allow the listener to come along for the ride. The voices will give you goose bumps, the arrangements will grab your ear while the stories will touch your heart. A tremendous effort once again from The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet with Vocal Madness!” Brent Black, CriticalJazz (2015)
Legendary alto saxophonist Richie Cole first heard the Washington DC-based Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet in 2012 and immediately declared them “My new discovery, the whole package.” Cole, who has worked extensively with The Manhattan Transfer and been featured on their Grammy-winning albums “Vocalese,” “Mecca for Moderns,” and “Extensions”, instantly recognized the vocal appeal of UVJQ and the unique songwriting and jazz arranging talents of their leader, Ginny Carr.
A lover of swingin’ vocal harmonies and a prolific songwriter himself, Cole invited Carr to arrange his own songs for her group and collaborate with him on a recording featuring their collective original compositions. “Vocal Madness” is a rich compilation of original songs by both Richie Cole and Ginny Carr, with arrangements by Carr. It’s a high-flying and highly original performance by the power ensemble of Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet and their band, with guest Richie Cole on sax.
The album includes two special reprises: Carr’s original salute to Eddie Jefferson (“He Was The Cat”) featuring Eddie’s own musical partner Richie Cole on the alto sax solo, and a new version of Cole’s famously be-bopping “I Love Lucy” from his 1979 “Hollywood Madness” recording… this time with Carr’s vocal arrangement adding the UVJQ signature.