Tony Adamo Reviewed by L.A. Jazz Scene's Jim Santella
Pop songs with R&B horns make Tony Adamo’s STRAIGHT UP DEAL sizzle with excitement. He sings with the bold character of a man who knows how to entertain, recalling pop singers Tom Jones, David Clayton-Thomas and Brook Benton as well as jazz singers Al Jarreau and Mark Murphy. His program, however, goes well beyond the pop and R&B arena into Jazz interpretations of standards such as “Milestones,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” ”Stolen Moments,” “In the WineLight,” and “Speak Low.”
The band, which includes horns with guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, gives Adamo a solid foundation from which he wails soulfully. Several guests help to make the session come alive: trumpeter Eddie Henderson, tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, guitarist Jerry Stucker, baritone saxophonist Doc Kupka, and alto saxophonist Melecio Magdaluyo.
Adamo swings up front on “Hey Lou” with persuasive jazz-talk, settles down for “Autumn Leaves” with a straightforward ballad approach, curls up with “ Lolita” in a romantic way, croons “Speak Low” with a delightful spin, cries “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” with funk dreams on his mind, and creates a lovely program rich in the jazz tradition and fun to be with.