Jim's interview with Steve Austin, Australia National Radio (ABC 612)
"You just got an offer to join the Strokeland family faster than any other group ever! lol Just let me know what you think and we'll go from there."
"Lost My Heart by Ingrid James & the San Gabriel 7
During the nine years since the San Gabriel 7 was founded by trombonist Jim Lewis, the three-horn septet has often confounded expectations. They have performed throughout the Los Angeles area (often with major guest soloists), their music has ranged from straight ahead jazz to funk and pop, and they have recorded three colorful CDs: Chop Check, Blame It On Trio, Cottonwood Station.
Lost My Heart teams the group with the talented Australian vocalist Ingrid James, a singer who deserves to be much better known in the U.S. Not only does she have a beautiful voice and very impressive technique but she is a creative jazz singer, an impressive scatter. and a warm interpreter of lyrics. From the start of the opener “Zigaboogaloo,” Ingrid James shows that she fits in very well with the three-horn septet. She alternates on this and the other pieces between taking the lead, scatting wordlessly, and functioning as part of the ensemble.
The music on Lost My Heart is difficult to pin down or quickly classify. “Zigaboogaloo” is a boogaloo that has fine spots for trumpeter Kye Palmer and guitarist Steve Gregory. On the funky and more poppish “Effervescence,” the San Gabriel 7 sounds like a big band backing the singer. Joni Mitchell’s “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns” is an example of modern folk music with some bluish guitar and Frank Villafranca’s soulful alto helping out Ingrid.
The Gears shift on “I Fall In Love Too Easily.” Ingrid sings the verse unaccompanied and beautifully before the inventive arrangement by Dave Cushman turns the ballad into a medium-tempo exploration. Guest trombonist Bill Watrous, one of the all time greats, has a notable solo before Ingrid closes the proceedings down with some scatting and a return to the original mood. The funky “Jogral” features catchy bass lines and rhythms which build during an alto solo that has the other horns riffing passionately. A medley of “Adagio” and “Lonely Woman” features Ingrid performing wordlessly at first before digging into the lyrics of “Lonely Woman.” She takes a warm vocal on “Lost My Heart,” with strong contributions from the band’s musical director Matt Weisberg on electric keyboards and guitarist Gregory.
Bill Watrous returns for the bossa nova “O Grande Amor.” Ingrid recalls Astrud Gilberto a bit, Gregory plays some acoustic guitar, and the interplay between Ingrid and Watrous at the piece’s conclusion is a highlight. “Conception/Deception” shows off Ingrid’s bop chops as she sings effortless intervals and unisons; Kye Palmer takes a heated trumpet solo on this straight ahead romp. Concluding this CD are spirited versions of Donald Fagan’s Brazilian-flavored “The Goodbye Look,” the veteran ballad “Where Are You.”
Throughout this impressive effort, Dave Cushman’s arrangements showcase Ingrid James at her very best and the San Gabriel 7 at its most versatile and inventive."
author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76
"I have been associated with Jim Lewis and SGS for some time and find this group to be a very exciting, high energy experience with first class musicians. Their album “chop check” offers a diverse selection of compositions and includes several origi- nals from Joe Curiale, Frank Villafranca and Dominic Mazzoni. Dominic’s ‘Cause I Told Ya So’ is one of my favorites on the CD and features the versatility of the entire group - a definite joy to listen to! SGS is one of the best up and coming groups on the L.A. Jazz Scene. I expect great things from them in the future!"
"Unlike many performing groups, SGS is unique due to a variety of things: focus, leadership, hard work, and dedication by the core members, and smart management of resources. It is unusual to find a true instrumental group which has both high musical standards and the work ethic necessary to produce a really tight, believable, personal sound. SGS has achieved this beautifully on their new album Blame It On Trio!"