Top of the Heap
In their publicity materials, Hip Graffiti makes the rather less-than-breathless claim to be "one of Oceanside's premier jazz bands." Well, such ostentatious claims can hardly go unchallenged even if, as we suspect, it turns out that Hip Graffiti is the only jazz band in Oceanside, Calif.
A couple listens to their new CD, "This Is Hip Graffiti," offers enough evidence to suggest that the band might want to nudge their publicist to raise the bar a tad. Truth is, this is one of the best jazz bands in the San Diego region and in our jazz-rich environment, that's saying something.
Guitarist Jay Myerson and vocalist Carol Fuller provide a rich yet accessible sound for Hip Graffiti's run through standards and lesser-known chestnuts. The small rhythm section of bassist Wendy Hrehovcsik and percussionist Warren Bryant lay down a smooth but solid foundation for Myerson and Fuller to play atop.
Stylistically, Hip Graffiti is a contemporary straight-ahead band with traces of Brazilian and R&B. Myerson plays a hollow-body guitar; it's got that patented fat sound, but with a bit of an edge to it closer to Barney Kessel than George Benson.
Fuller's voice sounds a bit on the thin side at times here, but she's spot-on in terms of timing and technique.
The play list ranges from the tried-and-true ("I Get a Kick (Out of You)," "A Foggy Day," "Stella by Starlight") to Brazil's Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Corcovado," "Vivo Sonhando," "Meditation") to some unfamiliar treats ("Softly As in a Morning Sunrise," Djavan's "Flor de Lis"). The approach in each case is respectful but not reverential; these are songs to be played, not museum pieces to be worshipped.
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