Consummately super smooth crooner Joe Bourne is picking up the pace with his new album, “Upbeat and Sweet.” Providing rhythmic encouragement on drums is none other than the eminently regarded Lewis Nash.

Stretching out even further, Bourne has selected a dozen songs from the soft rock world of the 1970s (with a few from the 1960s and 1980s). To be sure, this is a side of the sophisticated singer you haven't heard on any of his previous recordings.

Always searching for new ways to bring jazz into the 21st century, Bourne bravely calls out these songs as treasure chests of interpretation worthy of further exploration.

Making the strongest impression with a “Who knew all that was in there?” response is “Baby, I Love Your Way,” the Peter Frampton vocal hit that personified rock 'n' roll innocence when it hit the charts in 1976.

Bourne lets Brice Winston's flute handle the intro then gives the song a lightly swinging touch that would make Michael Franks proud. In this setting, the words take on more sophisticated implications.

The Eric Clapton rumination from 1977, “Wonderful Tonight,” is taken at a glacial pace but sung with a confidence that never falters even as each note is held far longer than its hungering heartbeat would seem to warrant.

My personal favorite is Bourne's interpretation of Leo Sayer's 1977 hit “When I Need You.” The desperate yearning and typical over-production of Sayer's recording, reflecting those tense times, has a more relaxed presence in Bourne's world.

His voice is deeper, his phrasing more relaxed. There is a kind of bravery here that comes with maturity. It gives the song a depth befitting the sort of rue that can only come with experience.

These are all old songs in pop music's compressed sense of time, but you hear Bourne sing them with fresh ears, freed from the cultural tumult of their origins. Songs that are ready to become new jazz standards in this new millennium.

The complete song list is: “Magic Carpet Ride,” “With A Little Help from My Friends,” “When I Need You,” “You've Made Me So Very Happy,” “Heartache Tonight,” “Jazzman,” “Just Like A Woman,” “You've Got A Friend,” “Don't Stop,” “Baby, I Love Your Way” and “Wonderful Tonight.

“Upbeat and Sweet” is available at, and all the usual online outlets.



Ty Cooper

Ty Cooper fills up the jazz corner at Tucson's Pastiche Modern Eatery, 3025 N. Campbell Ave., with an easy command of the music. Instantly you know this is where the classic American songbook has a true friend. Whether she happens to be having her way with a sweetly swinging melody or a sensual ballad, Cooper knows where to find all the good parts.

Best known in Chicago but presently living in Sante Fe, Cooper expanded her circle of friends recently to include the Baked Apple's jazz cognoscenti. Attentive listeners all, they gave their full appreciation and applause to her subtle pauses and turns of phrase.

Although first impressions of this entertainer are most likely to include such adjectives as sassy, saucy and bright, she isn't out to shock you with her recklessness. That is simply not her act.

Having fun is what Cooper is after. She loves this music and she wants you to love it, too. She just can't wait for those tasty beverages from the bar to loosen up your attitude, to soften the formality of an audience that is sharing the dining room with strangers.

Hey, she implies, we're all friends here with no secret handshakes or hipster jargon. If she's half-way through the first song and you are tapping your're in. A lifetime member of the Ty Cooper Jazz Appreciation Society.

Blessed with a classically trained voice that roams freely over several octaves, she calls on a lifetime of intense memories to color her interpretations the way a painter calls on a rich palette of colors for every emotion.

You're thinking 50 shades of gray? She has 150. Imagine the choices when she's drawn to the deep end of the red spectrum.

But whether Ty Cooper is setting up something more sophisticated such as “You and the Night and the Music,” or touching more intimate thoughts in her smoky ruminations on “The Very Thought of You,” she will pull you in with the promise of never letting go.