Digital Albums

Dream Dancing with You: CD
  • Dream Dancing with You: CD

Dream Dancing with You: CD

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Jim Porcella has always loved singing vintage classics. “The lyrics of the Great American songbook are so well written,” says Jim, “and are still very relevant today. They paint beautiful pictures without being corny.” During his career, he has infused the songs with his warm, friendly voice, his swinging style, and the obvious joy that he displays when interpreting such superior music.

He grew up in Medford, MA, played drums professionally for many years, starting when he was 16. He discovered many jazz giants at the legendary Lennie’s on the Turnpike. Jim began vocalizing when he was part of a trio based on Jackie and Roy. Jim, who has a natural singing voice, grew to love it and developed an appealing style coupled with a full understanding of the lyrics. He has performed at a countless number of venues throughout New England and led his swing band Bombay Jim and the Sapphires for the past 20 years. Dream Dancing With You is his seventh album.

Pianist-arranger Mike Renzi, who worked with Peggy Lee and Mel Torme, picked the all-star lineup for the project. The quartet includes the late great Bob Cranshaw famous for his many decades as Sonny Rollins’ bassist. Drummer Buddy Williams, whose endless list of credits range from Stevie Wonder to Chris Conner and Bob James to Cedar Walton, and the masterful swing tenor Harry Allen.

Starting with a romantic version of “Dream Dancing” which is given a light bossa feel, this is a memorable set that finds Jim Porcella at the top of his form. He swings hard on an infectious version of “Stepping Out,” scats on “It Don’t Mean A Thing” (which has two choruses by Allen in the Stan Getz tradition), and swings on the lesser-known but memorable “I Wonder Why.”

Jim Porcella particularly excels on his heartfelt renditions of ballads which are often duets with Renzi, who doubles on electric piano. These include an “Autumn Medley” (combining together the verse of “Autumn Leaves” with the lesser-known ‘Autumn”), a lyrical rendition of “My Romance,” “Here’s To Life,” “I Remember You” and a pair of successful two-song medleys in which the tunes are united by common themes. A special bonus is a pair of songs (“Too Close For Comfort” and “Lulu’s Back In Town”) that pay tribute to Mel Torme.

The result is Jim Porcella’s strongest recording to date, an excellent balance between swinging tunes and atmospheric ballads that will please fans of top-notch singing and classic American songs.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers and Jazz On Record 1917-76

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Physical Albums

You've Got That Look: CD
  • You've Got That Look: CD
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan [-] Since this 1993 recording, Jim Porcella has reinvented himself, or at least added another dimension to his persona, as Bombay Jim, the lead singer with the nine-piece powerhouse Swinging Sapphires. But until then, he did his thing as a full-throated baritone cut from the mold of Dick Haymes, Vic Damone, and others of similar vocal persuasion. The venue for this live performance with the Jeff Holmes Big Band was not the famous El Morocco nightclub in New York noted for its zebra-skinned decor. This was a club of the same name in Worcester, MA. But the music is just as exciting and vibrant as anything the old place might have offered. He's backed by a 20-piece band that, despite its size, doesn't get in the way of the vocalist. In fact, it's sometimes hard to believe that this big crew is actually on the set, unobtrusive as it is. The band joins Porcella in attacking a play list of 12 tunes running from standards through Latin material, traditional pop, and a couple of originals. An extra attraction is the presence of Dick Johnson, who worked with Woody Herman and George Masso. He takes the bulk of the soprano sax and clarinet solos, and is heard to especially good effect on "Georgia." But this group has other fine players as well, including leader/arranger Jeff Holmes, whose piano comps well underneath Porcella on "Triste." Holmes shows his adaptability with trumpet and flügelhorn on "Just in Time" and "'S Wonderful." Regardless of the way a type of rhythm is being played, Porcella handles it with ease, good taste, and fine phrasing. This is an old-fashioned album of almost 60 minutes of good big-band music with a singer, and is recommended.

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Sneak Preview: CD
  • Sneak Preview: CD
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Jim's first cd on the Brownstone Label.recorded in 1995 with Allen Dawson-drums,Dick Ogdren-piano,Emil Hadda-trmt.&flugel, Mike Monaghan-sax, Marshall Wood-bass.

Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me Duke Ellington / Bob Russell Jim Porcella 2:23
I Thought About You James Van Heusen / Johnny Mercer Jim Porcella 3:38
Here's That Rainy Day Johnny Burke / James Van Heusen Jim Porcella 4:27
Enemy Jack Sheldon Jim Porcella 4:55
Imagination Johnny Burke / James Van Heusen Jim Porcella 4:03
Down St. Thomas Way Ray Passman / Herb Wasserman Jim Porcella 3:37
Embraceable You George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin Jim Porcella 6:01
Haven't We Met Ruth Batchelor / Kenny Rankin Jim Porcella 3:41
So Many Stars Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Sergio Mendes Jim Porcella 3:48
I Should Care Sammy Cahn / Axel Stordahl / Paul Weston Jim Porcella 4:26
Blizzard of Lies Dave Frishberg Jim Porcella 3:08
Old Folks Dedette Lee Hill / Willard Robison Jim Porcella 2:36
Love Is Here to Stay George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin Jim Porcella 4:07
Morning Clare Fischer Jim Porcella 3:12
Don't Get Around Much Anymore Duke Ellington / Bob Russell Jim Porcella 4:36
We'll Be Together Again Carl Fischer / Frankie Laine Jim Porcella 3:02

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Antonio & Jon: CD
  • Antonio & Jon: CD
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan [-] Jim Porcella has come up with a unique and entertaining theme for his latest release. He runs parallel the works of the esteemed Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim with the hip lyricist Jon Hendricks. Included are instrumentals by top jazz artists whose music to which the written word has been added by Hendricks. On this side of the ledger, there's a whole set of tunes with lyrics in the Hendricks style. Among the more notable with which Porcella and his fellow musicians have a great deal of fun is the funky version of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man," made even funkier from the keyboard-cum-organ of Tom LaMark. Miles Davis' "Four" gets the Lambert, Hendricks & Ross vocalese kick to it, and why shouldn't it, given where the lyrics are coming from. There are a couple of tracks where the sometimes aloof music of Jobim meets the impudent words of Hendricks. One of these, "No More Blues," provides an upbeat vehicle for Porcella and the lyrical trumpet of David Burdett. One of the loveliest tracks on the set is Jobim's "Dindi," where Porcella's soft, expressive baritone gently wafts along on the melodic undulations of Monaghan's flute. Overall, this album moves back and forth between lively renditions of classic jazz standards and intelligent versions of Jobim's fine opuses. Of his albums to date, this is by far one of Porcella's most satisfying. Among other things, he shows that he possesses a very romantic set of pipes. Not only is the music highly listenable, but it seems to fit his vocal style to a tee, and he takes full advantage of that fortuitous confluence of voice and song.

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If I Could Dance like Fred Astaire: CD
  • If I Could Dance like Fred Astaire: CD
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan
It seems that Fred Astaire as a dancer is as compelling to singers as he is to other hoofers. Certainly Mel Tormé found him an inspiration for one of his most popular albums, his 1956 Mel Tormé Sings Fred Astaire. Now comes New England vocalist Jim Porcella dressed in white tie, top hat, and tails swirling a cane and cavorting as if he were Astaire. But there the similarity between the Tormé and Porcella tributes stops. Tormé actually sang songs associated with Astaire; Porcella was apparently just expressing a lifelong fantasy with the title of his album. His play list is decidedly the songs that Astaire neither sang nor danced to. Rather, this is a set of what might be called Tin Pan Alley tunes (plus a Porcella original or two) done with a musical variety show bounce, such as a medium-tempo "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "Honeysuckle Rose." Joining Porcella in this nod to these tunes is the Ron Zack Trio, an above-average rhythm section led by Zack's rather expressive piano. Zack certainly understands his role as the principal accompanist, as he places a nice pad under the singer, playing nice round notes, not attention-diverting sharp ones. He shows his skill in this area throughout the album, but especially on "The Very Thought of You." Porcella delivers on the musical agenda with an expressive, pleasant baritone that takes an excursion into scatting now and then. Maybe Porcella can dance like Fred Astaire and that's why he saw no reason to sing songs that Astaire liked. Regardless, this album is a very pleasing 47 minutes of vocal entertainment, and is recommended.

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Life is so Peculiar: CD
  • Life is so Peculiar: CD
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan In these days of too few male crooners, good or not so good, it's refreshing to have a Jim Porcella in the wings to come through with a CD of romantic ballads and that traditional pop which once dominated records and the airwaves, usually offered by male vocalists. Now most of the vocalizing comes from the distaff side with the male counterparts definitely taking a back seat, with some notable exceptions such as Tony Bennett and Kenny Rankin. The newcomers on the gentleman side seem to favor a mix of hip and adult contemporary rather than the ardent approach to singing. Porcella is not bashful. He tugs at the heart strings with an intense statement on Carroll Coates' "Love Is Letting Go" as Joseph Hebèrt's sonorous, rich cello provides the tender underpinning. Even a Henry Mancini tune (to whom the album is dedicated), "Two for the Road," gets a more-than-usual sentimental treatment. Here the tone is set by electronically created strings and the real live guitar of Jim Nichols. But it's not all hearts and flowers. Porcella does a fun, sassy rendition of the title tune, "Life Is so Peculiar," riding over the deep tones of the wah-wah trombone of Mark Anderson. Matters get nice and sparkling when hard bop sax player Richie Cole shows up on a tongue-in-cheek "I Love You (Because You've Heard of Lester Young)," a charming "Daughter, Dear!," and a swinging "Pick Yourself Up" where Cole is allowed to stretch out. With his third album, Porcella once again shows that there is plenty of room in the vocal jazz scene for some good old-fashioned crooning

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Keep Honkin: CD
  • Keep Honkin: CD
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Q & W Music releases Keep Honkin, Bombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphires’ electrifying 2nd CD, on October 23, 2001. With 13 engaging, foot tappin' tracks, an exhilarating mix of originals and swing favorites, including "Undecided," "Goody Goody" and "Air Mail Special," the CD showcases the Boston-based, 9-member-group known for their exceptional musicianship and inspired ability to swing.

Bombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphires features the retro-swing music popularized by the Royal Crown Revue, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Brian Setzer, but informed by the tradition of Jazz legends Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan, Louis Prima, and Count Basie. The accent here is on big fun as Bombay Jim reminds us at the start of "Let The Good Times Roll” Infectious enthusiasm is evident throughout.

Although this is clearly swing, the variety of tempos and moods, and the tasty improvisations of these master players makes this one of the those CDs that keeps finding its way onto the player. Lead trumpeter and chief arranger Dick Lowell's original, "Voodoo Queen," is a case in point, with a Latin feel and outstanding solos from trombonist Jeff Galindo and tenorman Arnie Karkowsky highlighting a intricate chart with surprising twists and turns.

A unique combination of a hot horn section, a rhythm section that won't quit, and a singer who's right on the mark, the group has been working consistently since their founding in Boston twenty years ago. They have earned acclaim from critics and audiences alike. “Jim Porcella is the only male singer I’ll follow Sinatra with,” — Jim West, Swing830, WCRN. “I couldn’t sit still, hands were sore from applauding. In my music dictionary, Bombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphires will be listed as the word swing.” — Frank Heigh, Quarter Notes Magazine. “CD Pick of the Week. Like other great individualists in jazz, Bombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphires have the ability to make these songs wholly their own, without departing from the melody…This is truly strong, fertile playing by all the musicians.” — Johnny Adams, Monterey County Post. “As if the insistent rhythm section weren’t enough, the other six players in this Boston-based outfit make it clear why the word “swinging” is in their name. These guys cook up a storm… hot stuff.” — Ed Symkus, Tab.

The group’s members — lead vocalist Jim Porcella “Bombay Jim,” drummer Gary Johnson, lead trumpeter Dick Lowell, trumpeter Jeff Stout, trombonist Jeff Galindo, tenor sax player Arnie Krakowsky, pianist Matt Richards, bassist Mark Carlsen and guitarist Jon Wheatley — are among Boston’s top musicians. Five are professors at Berklee School of Music, and collectively they’ve performed with numerous jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, the Buddy Rich Band, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw Orchestra, Herb Pomeroy, Buddy DeFranco, Rosemary Clooney, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Tommy Dorsey Band, Cab Calloway, Sammy Davis, Phil Woods, Clark Terry, Joe Lovano, Slide Hampton, Ray Charles and Natalie Cole, among many others. — more — Bombay Jim Keep Honkin’ — Page 2 —

Leader Jim Porcella, aka “Bombay Jim” grew up in Medford, MA, and started playing drums at the age of fourteen. He went to Berklee with an ear towards becoming a studio drummer, but fate intervened. After graduation, he worked with group that included two vocalists, a la Jackie and Roy. While working "a joint in Lowell, MA, the club owner, who was basically a tough guy, wanted everybody to sing. So I had a choice, to start singing, or he was going to replace me with a drummer who was going to sing." Working six nights a week, Porcella quickly developed vocal proficiency and for many years thereafter, worked as both a drummer, and a self-styled saloon singer. He has released five CDs, performed in jazz and cabaret settings in the Northeast, London, San Francisco and Vancouver, and for six years worked as the featured vocalist at Boston’s Ritz-Carlton.

He decided to put together The Swinging Sapphires (his wife came up with group's name, which is based on his favorite drink, a Bombay Sapphire martini) because of a deep love of Swing music. He’d always loved such masters as Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway, and hoped to put a band together that embodied that same musical excellence. Accordingly, he sought out the finest musicians he knew.

Lead trumpeter Dick Lowell writes most of their charts and his title track, "Keep Honkin," is a "tongue in cheek, playful satire on a really serious subject, road rage," Porcella reports. "We do the tune in way that gives it a little edge and quite frankly, it gets a great reaction when we play it live. People laugh, and I think this kind of response helps to diffuse road rage." Another Porcella favorite is "Voodoo Queen," because "of its really dark side."

In January 2000, Bombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphires, released their debut CD, Not Just Visiting. With Keep Honkin just released, they’re already back in the studio working on their third CD, featuring the title cut “Karma Credit Plan.” The group is planning US and European tours.

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Mike Renzi with Jim Porcella have recorded a solid jazz Christmas album, December Is: Christmas Duets. This album offers lively, warm, and time tested standards and one likable original co-written by Renzi. These tunes have been arranged here as accessible jazz, classy as well as moving.

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