Review - Michael Bongard

In American jazz and Latin music the historic centers of production have long been the same: New York, Miami, Los Angeles, pre-Katrina New Orleans. But now from the U.S. heartland--specifically Illinois--comes a fresh talent to shake up this coastal supremacy. Andrew Distel may be young but his soft, resonant voice betrays an old soul within, which he puts to expert use especially in the quieter ballads of his new cd, "Stepping Out of a Dream..." He's assembled a top-notch collection of Chicago-area session talent with Andrew himself occupying the trumpet and flugelhorn chairs in mainly small-combo configurations that bring his own compositions to life as well as breathe new vitality into standards from Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Jobim and Legrand. In both English and Spanish his supple vocals embrace the lyric while his deft trumpet voicings flesh out the spare but tasteful arrangements. The cd's superb overall sound quality is the icing on this jazz cake and "Stepping Out of a Dream..." augurs well for a long, fruitful career for its master baker, Andrew Distel.

Michael Bongard, "The Latin Train", Ottawa, Canada