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Frank Lamphere
Ain't Love a Kick

Sure, the songs of Sammy Cahn endure. We'll tap our toes and recall cherished moments to the tune of "Day by Day" and "The Things We Did Last Summer" until 2099 and beyond. But whose versions of the unforgettable songs of Sammy Cahn will we remember?

That's sure to be a crowded ballot. And it's a fair bet that not many votes will be cast for the efforts of Frank Lamphere and his band.

Lamphere's voice has almost the tone of Bennett, but not nearly the timbre of Crosby. Acoustically, his singing is loungy, but without the camp you enjoy or the croon you embrace. The crystal-clarity of his presentation on Ain't Love a Kick is meant to evoke the originals, rather than supercede them. Nice for a night on the town, but why buy his album when so many others have done better in the past?

This record almost becomes the difference between "the notes" and "the music". The nimble bass of Nick Schneider stands apart as vibrant and provocative; Johnny Gabor's keyboard work is capable yet pedestrian, from patented trills on "Please Be Kind" to staccato phrasing on "Star". The skin work of Mike Jeffers rhythmically sound but scholastic in style. Strummer Frank Portolese applies marching-band precision to accompaniment and lead, making the two almost indistinguishable in terms of the excitement they generate.

In fairness, there's nothing particularly wrong with this disc. The tone is rich and clear, the players are all accomplished, and as noted, the songs are gems. The challenge is to take that head start and run it past the finish line. Instead, we end up with tepid renditions of classics that are instantly forgettable.

—Dante Murphy



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