Drew Paralic – Wintertime Tunes (2012)

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A scalding summer hasn’t delivered us from its convection heat, though it has brought this crisp set of jazz tunes focusing on snow-covered, shiver-inducing themes. Wintertime Tunes blows in like fall’s first northerly breeze.

And boy (he says, wiping his brow), did I need it.

In some ways, Drew Paralic’s album — a self-released effort arriving on September 4, 2012 — is a bit like those “Christmas in July” sales, where we’re allowed (for just a moment, of course) to imagine our world tilted in another direction, with the concurrent joys of a down-coat collars and snowflaked eyelashes amid the crackling fireplace’s glow. It’s like the Beach Boys, you could say, in reverse.

And just as welcome, at least this time of year.

As with last year’s Roll With It, Baby, Paralic composes and arranges the tracks here, and they are then realized by a group of hand-picked sidemen. Pianist David Pearl, tenor sax and clarinet player Mike McGinnis, bassist Elias Bailey and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza make up the core group, each of them adding these crystalline touches to crisp Paralic constructions like “Finally 2001,” which swings with a Yuletide kind of joy. Bennett Paster (“Down in Soho”) and James Newman (“Steps”) make one-song appearances at the piano, as well.

Bailey is particularly effective during “(On the Occasion of) Wet Snow,” providing a Scott LaFaro-esque shading for Pearl’s trickling piano lines. When McGinnis enters on clarinet, I could almost see frost growing into the corner of my office window panes.

If Laura Kenyon’s vocal turns, though pleasantly reminiscent of Rosemary Clooney, on the opening “Wintertime Sky” and “How Bill’s Heart Sings” didn’t intrigue as much as the rest of Wintertime Tunes, they weren’t so jarring as to pull me completely out of my chilly reverie.

And, boy … I needed that.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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