About halfway through his spirited stroll through Michael Franks’ “Scatsville,” veteran jazz vocalist John Proulx, tongue firmly in cheek, declares, “Thou Shalt Not Scat!” – then proceeds to scat like nobody’s business. His jubilant vocalizing on this and a few other buoyantly arranged tracks on Say It – his first indie album after three acclaimed outings on MAXJAZZ – is just one of the great highlights on this unique liberating set drawing from the deeper catalogs of everyone from Duke Ellington and Frank Loesser to Mose Allison.
While the truest beauty of his dreamy tenor shines through on classics like “The Summer Knows” and “Both Sides Now,” Proulx balances the deeper emotions with wit, whimsy and wildly inventive piano solos. Another highlight is “Stained Glass,” his breezy duet with his co-writer, the always welcome Melissa Manchester, whose band has long included Proulx on keyboards. It’s inspiring to hear John Proulx “Say It” and swing it with such cool confidence!