Monday, May 24, 2010


[From the STMcC archive; September 4, 2004]

*This review is now dedicated to my buddy Arlee Bird – a cat who knows his Jazz*

IT WAS A RAINY NIGHT IN NINETEEN EIGHTY-EIGHT . . . and back East, the Los Angeles underDOdGers were performing miracles - publicly humiliating the cocky New York Mets. I was working the night watch in the City Of Angels. Angels my patoot! I was parked on a dark side street watching the rain pelt my windshield and listening to that cat blow his alto. It gave great meaning to the rain. His notes bruised my heart like a set of brass knuckles to the jaw! "That was RICHIE COLE with 'IF EVER I WOULD LEAVE YOU' from his latest release, SIGNATURE," the whiskey-voiced disc jockey told me over the thunder clap.

I immediately turned the engine over and spun a U-turn. Fishtailing on the slick street, I nearly flattened a drenched and darting tomcat. I could see in his eyes that we were both searching for the same thing: redemption. Or just a warm place to spend this cold night. I negotiated the sedan through the neon light-splashed concrete jungle boulevards.

There was an empty parking space right in front of the record shop. They must have expected me. I pulled my fedora down and the collar on my trench coat up as I approached the clerk. "John Doe," I said. He reached under the counter and came up with a battered black briefcase. "I know, Mr. Doe. Now blow!" he said, pushing the briefcase at me. The rain had let up and I sped home.

Making sure that I had not been followed, I climbed the dilapidated staircase to my dark, shabby apartment. I poured a tumbler of amber tonic, and lit a cigarette before removing the compact disc from the briefcase. I pushed 'Track Seven - Repeat' and sat back. With the beginning of the piano intro, lightning flashed and the rain resumed right on cue. The cool cat, Cole, hit that cascading note in the very same moment that the bourbon hit my bloodstream.

There was nothing left to do now but wait. The dame was late. As usual. But I knew she would be here soon enough. We'd see a REAL storm then!

And that's the true story of how I came by Richie Cole's album ‘SIGNATURE’. Give or take a cigarette and a tomcat or two.

In the liner notes of this underrated little gem, our host tells us that "This album was composed and arranged in every airport bar from San Francisco to Juneau to New York to Helsinki to Kajanni to Copenhagen to Los Angeles to Auckland to Brisbane to Darwin to Gove to Perth to Melbourne to Sydney to Papeete and back..."

Right away you know this is going to be good because nothing bad ever came out of an airport bar (except a few hangovers maybe, but those were deserved).

This collection is for those who like their Jazz with pizazz! The highlights for me are SUNDAY IN NEW YORK with its snappy guitar and piano solos by Vic Juris and Tee Carson; the Pacific sea breeze-inflected, steel drum-laced TRADE WINDS (which could just as easily have been titled SUNDAY ON VENICE BEACH); and the nearly equally breezy RAINBOW LADY.

The real head-turner, however, is the emotionally heartwrenching and melodically gorgeous IF EVER I WOULD LEAVE YOU. It remains one of my very favorite instrumentals, and I defy you to find a more sublime soundtrack for a rain-soaked evening. That's what sold me on it! (And yes, I really did buy ‘SIGNATURE’ within 10 minutes of hearing IF EVER I WOULD LEAVE YOU played on my car radio!)

The odd man out is the two and a half minute AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. I've never figured out why this piece was tacked on as a coda. My suspicion has always been that Mr. Cole's final flight was delayed and he was forced to wait just one scotch and soda too long at the airport bar. Oh well, no harm done. It was nothing that three Excedrin wouldn't cure.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.


  1. Well, I'm flattered that you would be inspired to dig this up especially for me. I like the thematic approach of the review. I think this is an example of time, place, and mood coinciding with the hearing of a piece to create a special magic that becomes thereafter attached to that piece in your mind. I will often hear something that will strike me in my right mood and inspire me to seek out the album that it is on. At another time and place and a different frame of mind the music might not have been so magical. Taste in music can be fickle, but a good quality recording can usually cinch the deal.

    Tossing It Out

  2. rLEE-b ~
    Yeah, hearing IF EVER I WOULD LEAVE YOU for the first time on a rainy night heightened its attraction for me.

    It's an astoundingly beautiful piece, so no doubt I would have loved and purchased it under ANY circumstances, but truly this performance combined with night and rain is almost beyond perfection.

    I can't ever hear it without getting a mental image of a scene from some tragic celluloid love story with a view looking out on the rainy street below from some cheap hotel window with the hotel's name glowing in neon but one of the letters burned out. You know that picture!

    IF EVER I WOULD LEAVE YOU is the ideal film noir mood piece. OUTSTANDING! It killed me to leave it behind when I sailed for that Desert Island. But, on more than one occasion, I did consider making Richie Cole's 'Signature' one of my 15 albums, based primarily on the strength of that one track.

    IF EVER I WOULD LEAVE YOU: Don't leave for a rainy night without it!

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens

  3. Nice film noir atmosphere, but I got one question...

    Are you ever gonna pay for the album?

  4. Ha!
    Being a private investigator has its perks.

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens

  5. Stephen:

    Wow. I love, Love, LOVE this review. I think you’ve covered all of the key elements of film noir in a couple of paragraphs (rain-swept streets, trench coats and fedoras, dicey transactions in dodgy establishments, tardy and temperamental dames). Such a cleaver way of reviewing a jazz album.

    ~The Aard~

  6. I might have to pick this up


  7. DearAard ~
    Hokey-Smoke! THANKS!!!
    I'm surprised you hadn't seen it before; it's an old one from the Amazon days.

    Your opinion is highly valued by me because I happen to know that... you are one "dame" who really knows her film noir. Yer the expert in that area fer shur!

    * And don't worry - everybody already knows yer a "smart cookie" and so "cleaver" was nothin' more than a simple typo. We knowz you meant "clever", and that you ain't no "dumb blonde". ;o)

    BR'ER MARC ~
    It's real jazzy Jazz and a few of the tracks even include steel drums for an added, unusual element not generally found in sax-driven Jazz of this type. So, it's "different".

    But even if you hate everything on it, I can almost guarantee that you'll dig "If Ever I Would Leave You". And if you don't, then save it for a rainy night and see if your opinion doesn't change.

    ~ Stephen
    "As a dog returns to his own vomit,
    so a fool repeats his folly."
    ~ Proverbs 26:11

  8. Hey, Pal:

    I thought I had read literally all your Amazon reviews, but I guess I must have missed this one... Great stuff.

    >>* And don't worry - everybody already knows yer a "smart cookie" and so "cleaver" was nothin' more than a simple typo. We knowz you meant "clever", and that you ain't no "dumb blonde". ;o)<<

    Aw nuts! I do that one ALL THE TIME!!! I think it is because one of the attorneys I work for is named "Cleaver" and I must 'sleep type" the word a million times a week.

    Thanks for trying to make me feel better.

    ~The Aard (brown hair with 'blonde' roots)~

  9. .
    "(brown hair with 'blonde' roots)"

    Youz funny! :o)

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens


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