Scott Yanow for L.A. Jazz Scene May 2011 -- Issue #284
Although best known as a drummer for such notables as Chuck Mangione, Jack Sheldon, Michael Buble and Richie Cole along with his own trio, Dave Tull is also a singer worth discovering. His voice is appealing, he is an expert scat singer, and he handles lyrics well.
On I Just Want To Get Paid, Tull not only sings and plays drums but contributed all 14 songs, both the words and the music. He is an excellent lyricist who tells stories that relate to the jazz life, filled with both humor and insight truths.
Along with some offbeat love songs, "I Just Want To Get Paid", "You're Talkin' Too Loud", and "The Minutes Go Like Hours When You Sing" are especially memorable, dealing with deadbeat bandleaders, noisy audience members and amateur singers who should never be allowed to sit in. Tull's vocals are sincere and sell his songs well. His trio, which also includes pianist Corey Allen and bassist Kevin Axt, are joined by saxophonist Doug Webb and trumpeter Steve Huffsteter on some of the selections.
During an era when both male jazz singers and worthwhile new material are in short supply, Dave Tull's I Just Want To Get Paid is a welcome release that is easily recommended and available from www.davidtull.com.
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07/12/10 • By Christopher Loudon
Dave Tull: Stories of his Own
Longtime jazz sideman comes out with own vocal album
You’ve probably heard a lot more from Dave Tull than you realize. The veteran, Southland drummer/vocalist/songwriter has played on four of Michael Bublé’s albums and five of Cheryl Bentyne’s (and raised his voice alongside hers on two tracks from her 2003 disc Moonlight Serenade, including one Bentyne insisted be titled “Tull Tales” because she was so knocked out by Tull’s scatting). He has toured, as drummer and lead singer, with Chuck Mangione (if you’ve ever thrilled to Mangione’s boplicious “Dizzymiles,” that’s Dave you heard scatting up a storm). He’s also toured and recorded with Jack Sheldon, the Page Cavanaugh Trio, the Paul Smith Trio and Les Brown’s Band of Renown. Two years ago, together with pianist Corey Allen and bassist Kevin Axt, he formed the L.A. Jazz Trio. Their terrific debut CD, On the Sunny Side of the Street (with a special guest appearance by Bentyne), is definitely worth searching out. (The easiest way to locate a copy is to order it through CD Japan. Now Tull has added the one thing that’s been missing from his sterling, twenty-five year résumé: a full-length vocal album of his own.
Featuring Allen and Axt, plus saxophonist Doug Webb and trumpeter Steve Huffsteter, recorded in 2007 and finally released a few months ago on Tull’s own Toy Car label, I Just Want to Get Paid! is a wonderful collection of 14 original tunes, all smart, fresh and inventive. As great as the songs are, Tull, strongly reminiscent of both Kurt Elling and Mark Murphy, is just as impressive an interpreter.
If, by chance, your local jazz deejay is hip enough to know about, and dig, the album, chances are you’ve heard one (or more) of the five songs that represent the wry, sardonic side of Tull, since they’re the immediate attention-getters. As a wordsmith capable of crafting sly, brilliantly funny, slice-of-life tunes, he is in the same league as Lorraine Feather and, like Feather, is steadily inching toward that exalted plateau inhabited by Dave Frishberg. The title track, already a cult favorite among every jazz musician who has ever gotten stiffed after a gig (in other words, every jazz musician), tells of a top-drawer player who, having lowered his standards by accepting a club date fronted by a mediocre leader, finds injury added to insult when no cash (but plenty of empty promises) is forthcoming.
Tull’s tally of woes from the jazz trenches continue with “You’re Talking to Loud,” a welcome putdown of, as the title suggests, all those garrulous boors who’s nonstop yakking invariably grows louder during solos and soft numbers. Rounding out the delightfully mournful trio is “The Minutes Pass Like Hours When You Sing,” a backhanded slap to every amateur warbler who, fueled by too much beer, too many nights at the local karaoke joint and zero awareness of the severity of their vocal limitations, insists (typically with a $1 donation to the tip jar) on climbing onstage to massacre “Melancholy Baby” or “New York, New York.”
But Tull’s sarcasm isn’t limited just to the louts and lowlifes of the jazz world. Anyone who has ever suffered the incompetence of the airline industry (in other words, anyone) will appreciate “The Airplane Song.” From overpriced drinks to howling infants, Tull covers the entire rulebook of air travel incompetence and inconsideration. Among the best of his laugh-out-loud observations: “the drink cart smacked me in the elbow, kamikaze-style, which caught me by surprise ’cause I’m not sitting on the aisle,” and “I watch them load my suitcase on the airplane… that’s across from the plane I’m on.” Tull also riffs on Joe Williams’ classic “Every Day I Have the Blues,” crafting a long list of churlish complaints that only the insanely rich, and exorbitantly self-absorbed could make on “Every Other Day I Have the Blues.”
But Tull the keen observer of cultural gaffes and gross insensitivities is only half the picture (and less than half of the album). He is an equally gifted, and equally wide-ranging, architect of love songs. From the murky confusion at the precipice of commitment (“How Do You Know You’re In Love?”) and sweet contentedness of true, trusting love (“Take One Look At Me,” “She Loves Me!”) to the dusky, introspective heartache of “Where Is All the Rain?” and gentle coaxing from the hard shell of heartbreak that propels “The Second Chance,” Tull demonstrates deep appreciation for love lost, found, old, new, vibrant or faded. But by far the most charming of Tull’s love stories is his closing number, the bouncy, sunny-side-up “Got To Get Home to See My Children,” peppered with genuine, excited greetings from his own kids, Frannie and Henry.
Tull is working overtime to get the CD out there and, if you follow his blog, is utterly thrilled every time a local music store or mom-and-pop shop agrees to take a handful of discs on consignment. Fortunately, I Just Want to Get Paid! has now made it onto Amazon, CD Baby and iTunes, so ordering or downloading a copy is universally simple. Get it. You owe it to Dave, and you owe it to yourself.
If you’d like to share your comments about Dave Tull or want to send along ideas for future installments of Hearing Voices, please direct your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I Just Want to Get Paid! (Toy Car – 0110) is a truly engaging album of original songs by drummer DAVE TULL who wrote both music and lyrics for the 14 selections, and sings them as well. He is joined on the album by Doug Webb on reeds, Steve Huffsteter on trumpet, Corey Allen on keyboards, and Kevin Axt on bass. The songs are a mix of whimsy and sensitivity. There are a few sardonic ruminations about life as a jazz musician, “I Just Want to Get Paid,” “You’re Talkin’ Too Loud” and “The Minutes Pass Like Hours When You Sing,” each of which explores some of the pet peeves that are endemic to cats who toil in the jazz trenches. The vagaries of contemporary air travel are the subject of the occasionally laugh out loud funny “The Airplane Song.” If you know someone with lots of bread who complains about things that most people would dig having a chance to endure, then you will love “Every Other Day I Have the Blues.” Tull has a sensitive eye for the subtleties of personal relationships, especially those involving romance. These are not your typical love songs. They are not full of flowery romantic flourishes, rather cut to the heart of human feelings. One that is particularly memorable is “Where Is All the Rain,” a ditty that explores the feelings of love lost using the weather as a metaphor for emotions. The closing track is a moving expression of parental love, “Got to Get Home So That I Can See My Children.” Tull’s songwriting conjures up the work of Dave Frishberg and Jay Leonhart, witty and perceptive. His singing also recalls Frishberg or Hoagy Carmichael, jazz players and songwriters who have a sense of phrasing that makes the less than classic sounds of their voices secondary to their ability to convey the essence of the lyrics. There is a lot of pleasure to be derived from this album that becomes amplified with repeated listening. (www.davidtull.com)
Jersey Jazz, October 2009
Dave Tull: I Just Want to Get Paid! Dave Tull is not only a much-respected session drummer (and part of Chuck Mangione’s ensemble), but he’s also a clever composer and singer, who performs witty tunes, often about the challenges of being a working musician. This album showcases Tull and his compositions, which are a combination of funny observations in the Mose Allison tradition, balanced with surprisingly romantic ballads. Thus, there’s “The Minutes Pass Like Hours When You Sing” on the same program as “Where Is All the Rain?” Check him out yourself; he’s the guest artist tonight and Saturday night at The Strathallan with guitarist Bob Sneider and others.
— Jack Garner
Democrat and Chronicle
What our critics are listening to
Living – August 14, 2009
“A bit of Joe Williams’ influence is evident in Dave’s full voice range, feel, and phrasing, but Dave is no imitator, the payoff is that he’s a world class drummer, vocalist, composer, and rare find. Fortunately, a musician friend hipped me to Dave, and within 10 seconds of hearing this track on youtube, I gladly paid Dave for his CD and it was worth every cent.”
I just thought I'd let you know how much I love your CD! I have had a
chance to listen to it many times
and love it. The singing and playing are perfect. I think it's going
to be a hit and the jazz stations and the internet will love it!
Listened to the CD all the way home... and LOVED it! Got it home and brought it in the house (which I never do) - finished it just now... You sound great! Lori and I were crying we were laughing so hard... I thought your drums sounded amazing! - Corey sounded wonderful and you and Kevin just lock and make it feel so good. The real pleasure came in hearing the whole package - including your poignant and clever lyrics! Not only on the "fun" tunes, but the serious ones as well. You're such a talented guy... I can only wish you the best of success with this CD. Anyway, I can't rave enough about your talents... and you're a nice guy. Imagine that!
Keep it up! We'll say we "knew you when".
Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!
I put on your CD thinking I'd check out a few tunes before crashin' and got pulled TOTALLY in!
It's now 2:00 AM and I couldn't sleep without sending you a most heartfelt "Congratulations" on your beautiful creation!
It's happening in every regard.... now I know why you're always writing in that journal of yours.... you're a poet as well....
"Your second chance... is just begging you to dance"... that got to me!
You and Corey and KA are just gettin all of it too...
What a beautiful CD... one I will always treasure..... I am so happy for you Dave. This is excellence!
Just wanted to let you know that "I Just Want to Get Paid" has made
it into heavy rotation in our household. We are really enjoying it!
The playing from everyone throughout is both impeccable and tasty,
your singing is an absolute revelation to me (particularly your
excellent scat soloing), and I have to agree with the comment from
your bio that the songs themselves play like undiscovered standards
-- lyrics of refined wit, well-crafted melodies and sophisticated
harmonies. You are a true "triple threat"! Among my favorites are
the title track, "The Airplane Song," "Quiet Corner" and "Every Other
Day I Have the Blues" (Somewhere Mose Allison is smiling at the
title alone!). Congratulations on such a beautifully realized
effort, and thanks so much for sharing it with us!
All the best,
We laughed, we cried! Oh, Dave, we were so blown away. I was already familiar with most of the tunes but you sang them so great I was hearing them for the first time. We want to buy at least 10 right away to send to friends.
'I Just Want to Get Paid!" is swingin', romantic and laugh out loud funny-- everything we love about jazz!