“Holy crap!” may not be the most obvious way to start a review for a jazz album review, but David Caceres opens up his self-titled album (his fourth) with a cover of Maxwell’s “Symptom Unknown”, which is a bold move for any jazz artist. Some jazz purists will say “do nothing but the standards” but as someone who reviews a good amount of jazz, I want to hear something other than the accepted standards. In this case, Caceres shows his skills as a vocalist and saxophonist that brings the song back to its introspective home to create a bit of a temple of church, where you and only yourself becomes your own place of worship to figure out what you must do to get from here to there. I was blown away by his performance, as his voice shows qualities that remind me of the warmth of Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson and Corinne Bailey Rae. How about Maxwell? It’s very much a Maxwell song, but it sounds nothing like him and probably isn’t meant to. It’s a fantastic way to start the album, which then moves into a cover of Ray Lamontagne’s “You Can Bring Me Flowers”, bringing a jazzy New Orleans bravado into Lamontagne’s celebration of the American spirit, adding more spices into what’s already there. By Caceres singing the line “you can bring me flowers when I’m dead and gone” is his way of saying “yes, I have too much to do, don’t honor me now, I don’t want that. Put me to work, or let’s work together”. With two songs, he is bringing the listener into his community like a pied piper, hoping people will want to join him on his journey.
Van Morrison gets the funky/Northern soul vibe with a nice rendition of his “The Way Young Lovers Do”, sure to become sample-fodder for select producers and DJ’s, while “Giving Up” (a Van McCoy original that was covered by both Gladys Knight & The Pips and Donna Hathaway) is one of those that will make those cold nights warm. When Caceres wants to, he could be a heartbreaker for the ladies with his voice, and one could easily see him beign up there with Robin Thicke and Remy Shand. However, Caceres hasn’t run off to a hidden corner in Canada nor does he want to be novel for the sake of trying to put value in other people’s relevance. This is Caceres on his own terms, someone who wants to display his skills into the words of others, an interpreter, an arranger, an artist with a lot of range and depth. While the majority of his album are covers, including tracks by Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock, he does offer two of his own compositions, “Gratitude” and “Sacred Path”, which brings things back to his jazzy roots, and it’s not a bad place to be in. One can then here how he was rooted to hearing more, or hearing other music inside and out to become who he is here, and what he may continue to do for the rest of his musical career.
I must say, if more jazz vocal albums was like this, you’d hear a lot more of this everywhere and not just in a small pocket called jazz. Forget age barriers and whatnot, this is music for everyone. To everyone who does take time to hear David Caceres: take time to pass this along to the next man or woman and spread the word.