Somewhere it is written that all singing trumpeters with loud, exuberant (and especially, raspy) and extrovertedly emotional voices will be compared to Louis Armstrong, whereas those with a soft, understated and more introverted approach will invariably be likened to Chet Baker. There are dozens of other role models for trumpeter-vocalists, from Red Allen, Jabbo Smith, Louis Prima, and Hot Lips Page to Jack Sheldon, but Pops and Chet would seem to be the two major options. Augie Haas certainly sounds more like the latter than the former, but there’s no imitation involved, and what’s more, he doesn’t invite the comparison by doing songs associated with either of his brass-vocal forebears. Rather, his latest of five albums, Dream a Little Dream of Me, which features a full string orchestra and gorgeous arrangements, uses a thoughtful and original line-up of tunes. Surprisingly, the rock-pop songbook of the 1950s is the most obvious point of departure, including a reading of “I Only Have Eyes for You” based more directly on the Flamingos (rather than Busby Berkeley and Dick Powell), as well as a jazzy 4/4 swing version of “Love Me Tender” and “Earth Angel,” the 1954 breakthrough doo-wop hit by the Penguins. Elsewhere, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” the Beatles’s “Blackbird,” and “Stand by Me” (a song that needs a string orchestra for the final fadeout, since it essentially has no ending) take us a decade forward into the pop 1960s. (Then there’s “Ooh Child,” the 1970 hit by the Five Stairsteps, though, like me, he probably first heard it via Nina Simone.) Dream a Little Dream of Me is a beautiful album, and Mr. Haas should be able to make it translate into the intimate space of the Birdland Theater even without all the orchestral trappings.
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