Nelson Rangell,
My American Songbook, Vol. 1
(Koch, 2005)

Saxophonist Nelson Rangell has released yet another very professional and fluent recording. Here he is trying, as the title My American Songbook suggests, to reflect upon the sufferings of a great nation during recent years.

The opening track, "Introduction to America and...," is followed by the well-known "America" from the musical West Side Story. Here, everything is very smooth, positive and thirsty for the lost American dream, and Rangell's flute sounds like something you would hear in a typical Hollywood movie.

All tracks are accompanied by text in which he explains how exactly music helps to reunite people in today's cruel American society. After the very classical and smooth-sounding "America" comes the only track on this recording with a catchy rhythm, Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing."

Probably the reason for putting two famous tunes at the beginning was to keep the listener occupied and interested, and one has to admit that Rangell succeeded. However, what follows is music that sticks so well, you could cover your walls with it. Everything sounds like a typical cliche. Predictable saxophone moves, the classical sound and clean notes make it hard to call it jazz. In fact, My American Songbook is quality easy-listening. Rangell skillfully plays music that is suitable for dimly lit rooms, candles and perhaps some wine.

I wouldn't recommend it for fervent jazz fans, but if you want a recording for a romantic evening, then this is certainly the one.

by Ester Eggert
27 May 2006

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