Discover more from Wild Mercury Rhythm
Jonathan Karrant - Eclectic
(Virtuoso Music, 2023)
Jonathan Karrant follows up his much admired Christmas Wish (Virtuoso Music, 2022) with a broad-based music collection on Eclectic. Broad-based in the respect that he covers music ranging from “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” to Macy Gray’s 2014 song “First Time” (from her recording The Way (Kobalt Records)). This only reveals the horizontal aspect of Karrant’s programming. The vertical song inclusion reveals several surprises.
Karrant is supported on Eclectic by pianists Joe Alterman, Patrick Hogan, and Josh Nelson; bassists Nick Schmitt and Dave Robaire, drummers Jeremy Klewicki and Dan Schnelle, with appearances by tenor saxophonist Houston Person, and Lincoln Center trumpeter Kenny Rampton. While this format is traditional for both jazz singers and song stylists, Karrant’s accompaniment does provide aural surprises.
The release of Eclectic was preceded by the single of Ivan Lins’ “Love Dance” presented as a duet between Karrant and Jane Monheit that features Houston Person’s saxophone obbligatos. The two singers share a delicious wink while revealing the song’s humid alchemy and exposing its provocatively organic sexiness. “Love Dance” is an appropriate introduction to the release as Karrant keeps the recital at a steady simmer.
Karrant is equally capable of infusing his sensuality into old material (“ Spring Can Really Hand You Up The Most,” “Once Upon A Time,” and “The Song Is You”) and new (James Taylor’s “Secret O’Life” and Smoky Robinson’s “Tracks Of My Tears”). Karrant transforms Macy Gray’s soulful “First Time” into an arrangement and performance suitable for the cocktail lounge and jazz club stage. Karrant’s voice is densely pretty, cloaked in an innocence of youth and wonder. Presented exposed in a trio setting, Karrant leaves all emotion out there.
The center of the recording is Amy Clark’s “I Imagine.” Not a household name? Ms. Clark is a friend of Karrant’s from his home state of Arkansas. She wrote this song with Karrant in mind. This song is a vehicle that not only provides Karrant with excellent material but also a means for expressing his innate sweetness and grace. Supported by a jazz trio, the song is a nominally country song in the guise of Nora Jones circa 2003. It is presented plaintively, and sung the same way: with great care and consideration. It is a hymn by a friend for a friend, sung back to her. This song will make you admire if not love, Jonathan Karrant.
“I Imagine” also plays a perfect artistic foil to the beautifully steamy “Love Dance” in such a way that the two songs represent songs of experience and innocence. “Love Dance” is overtly sensual, warm, and piquant, while “I Imagine” is small-
town, home from school to see someone special. This is the charm of Jonathan Karrant, his expansive and sensitive talent and heart.