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Darrian Ford, New Standards Review

by February 27, 2019

Darrian Ford, New Standards Review

darrian-ford-curDarrian Ford has a long resume of stage performances to his pedigree of an artist. His professional theater career began at age 13 in Oscar Brown Jr’s The Nitty Gritty.  At 15 he joined The Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater and at 19 moved to NYC to dance in the companies of Alvin Ailey and Donald Byrd/The Group. He made his Broadway debut as Charlie in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s State Fair. He also appeared in The Who’s Tommy (B’way/First National), Smokey Joe’s Café (First National) and the First National tour of The Color Purple. Ford co-starred opposite Halle Berry in HBO’s Introducing Dorothy Dandridge as Fayard Nicholas and recurred on Disney’s That’s So Raven. His most recognized performance is his original concept concert, The Cooke Book – The Music of Sam Cooke.  Prior to the release of his latest album New Standards, he released two EP’s, Everything and Heavy Demonstration.

About the Album

New Standards is a collection of 15 songs that range in style and timbre.  Ford is joined by a full list of personnel including: Piano: Ben Joseph, Kael Bradley; Guitar: Larry Brown Jr., John Cicora; Bass: Tim Ipsen, Runere (Ruh-near) Brown; Saxophone: Kenneth Leftridge; Trumpet: Constantine Alexander; Flute: James Perkins Jr.; Organ & Harmonica: Ben Joseph; Percussion: Zach Himelhoch; Cello: Alex Chambers-Ozasky, Joshua Dema; Violin: Ece Dolu, Yu Xin each playing their part in the sonically rich success of the album.  One can certainly hear Ford’s Cabaret and musical theater background in his voice, he projects with a confidence that resonates through each tune.  Ford explains “You will hear influences from his theatrical background and some of his music heroes like Al Jarreau, Mel Torme’, Nancy Wilson and Tony Bennett.” From blues-based gospel to smooth jazz stylings to heartfelt anthemic ballads. New Standards offer a journey of styles and sounds.

Our Favorite Track

Our favorite track is “Bag of Rocks.” Opening with a hip brass passage, the bluesy relaxed feel is brought to life. Ford enters with authority and a strong blues presence in his singing. For the first statement of the melody Ford carries the tune with his singing as the band plays hitsdarrian-forrd-avatars around his singing. Ford’s phrasing is rhythmically and stylistically in the pocket. The arrangement offers plenty of interest with a swelling organ sound, a full horn ensemble adds an interesting form. Ford displays a wide vocal range. His control of timber and color is also very good, a fine example is in the bridge, when he changes his sound to match the feel change of the band and builds to return to the last A section with power. The strength of Ford’s delivery through this gospel blues number is displayed throughout the ‘story’ form of the melody. Ford conveys the storyline with meaning and the non-riff-based melody with passion and consistency.

In Conclusion

Is Ford redefining the idiom of jazz standards? No, but I don’t think that was the intended goal.  New Standards offers a varied journey of songs that are cohesively tied together by one defining notion, the strength and prowess of Fords voice.  Each song offers compelling performances that ignite the listeners senses on a journey of an impressively poised collection of tunes that speak to Ford, which gives him a powerful vehicle of expression.  Ford is an artist that is not definable by genre, and his love for music in general shines through in each performance.

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Overview
Artist

Darrian Ford

Album

New Standards

Label

Self-Released

Report Card
C.U.R. Grades
You Grade The Music
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Originality
A-
C+
Execution
A
B-
Sound Quality
A
C+
Solos
A-
A-
Arrangements
A
A+
Vocal Quality
B+
C
Art Work
B-
D+
Use of Various Styles
A-
C
Feel
A
A+
A-
C.U.R. Grades
B-
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