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Joe Romano - Come Down with Love (LP)

Joe Romano - Come Down with Love (LP)

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Genre: pop
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Coming Down with Love
Company: Baby Grand
Catalog: SE 1020
Year: 1977
Country/State: Rochester, New York
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6174
Price: $40.00

The late sax player Joe Romano was well regarded in jazz circles where over a three decade period he'd carved out a stellar reputation playing with the likes of Louie Bellson, Les Brown, The Woody Herman Orchestra, Chuck Iisrels' National Jazz Ensemble, Chuck Mangione's Jazz Brothers, Gus Mancuso, Sam Noto, and The Buddy Rich Big Band. That said, normally content in the role of sideman, tracking Romano's career and discography as a supporting player is outside of my area of interest and expertise, so I 'borrowed' the following career summation:

Joe Romano, "Saxophonist Extraordinaire", a native of Rochester, New York, started his professional career in his teens. His early influences were Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Cannonball Adderly, Coleman Hawkins, and Stan Getz. During his teen years he was privileged to "sit in" with Sonny Stitt, Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz and Nat King Cole.

After completing his musical studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, he joined the Air Force and was a member of numerous Air Force Bands. Following his Air Force service, he became a legend in the Rochester/Buffalo area playing at Sam Noto's club and recording with Chuck Mangione on his first album, "Recuerdo". Joe joined Woody Herman's band and played with him on and off for the next ten years. After Woody Herman, Joe played with Buddy Rich, Les Brown, Louie Bellson and Ken Peplowski throughout Europe, South America and Asia. He relocated to Los Angeles and became a mainstay with Don Menza, Bill Holman, Stan Kenton, Pearl Bailey, Bill Berry, Sal Nistico and the Juggernaut Big Band.

Joe joined Stan Getz in the Hollywood studios where the recorded sound tracks, including Disney's "Marrying Man". His numerous recording dates include three with Louie Bellson and Sam Noto, Don Menza, Sal Nistico, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman and his own album entitled "Finally Romano" Joe has appeared with the Las Vegas Sahara show band, Jerry Lewis' Telethons, Frankie Valli, Frank Sinatra Jr., Si Zentner and as a soloist and sideman in jazz clubs throughout America.

While living in California recording sound tracks, he seemingly also became involved with the Baby Grand label, serving as a member of the company's 'house band'. Like many members of the Baby Grand musical 'family', Romano was apparently given an opportunity to record a solo collection. Co-produced by Joel Moss and Bill House, with keyboardist Ron Fair serving as executive producer, the result was 1977's "Coming Down with Love". Given Romano's musical credentials, anyone expecting to hear an album of hardcore bop was in for a major shock. In addition to sax, the majority of these ten tracks featured Romano on lead vocals ... He wasn't the greatest singer you've ever heard, but for the most part his performances weren't band, adding a nice edge to what would have otherwise been a rather anonymous collection of mid-1970s adult contemporary lite-jazz. Thing along the lines of Chuck Mangione's mid-1970s sound ('Feels So Good') and you'd have a feel for tracks like 'I'm In Heaven' and 'Steal Your Love' sounded like.

- Overlooking Romano's somewhat shrill vocal (especially noticeable when he tried to hit the high notes), 'Coming Down with Love' wasn't a bad slice of top-40 pop. Kicked along by Ronald Fair's pounding piano, the song had a nice melody and would have fit well alongside of mid-1970s radio staples like Christopher Cross. (Come to think of it, this track wouldn't have sounded out of place on the "Arthur" soundtrack.) rating: *** stars
- 'I'm In Heaven' was another surprisingly enjoyable slice of MOR soft pop. rating: *** stars
- 'Ridin' High' found Romano struggling with a pseudo-disco beat. The results were actually kind of funny; especially when the chirping background singers kicked in ... rating: ** stars
- The lone instrumental on side one and my choice for standout performance, 'Luci-Boy' found Romano showcasing his talents as a sax player ... Backed by a full band arrangement, the track had everything going for it - great upbeat melody and some tasty sax moves. rating: **** stars
- Side two started out with another lite-jazz instrumental 'Midnight Flight'. Overlooking the opening airplane sound effects, showcasing Romano's sterling sax, this was another likeable effort in that adult contemporary make-out mode. Easy to see a couple slapping this one on the stereo after a couple of bottles of wine ... rating: *** stars
- Another pop oriented number, 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' had a breezy, radio-friendly melody, but suffered from one of Romano's worst vocals - very brittle and shrill. rating: ** stars
- 'Steal Your Love' was easily the album's most commercial track. Anyone hearing this one was going to find it hard to believe this guy was a hardcore jazz player ... rating: *** stars
- Even though Romano sounded like he had a frog stuck in his throat, 'Every Now and Then' offered up a pretty ballad. For some reason the stark arrangement complete with Carlos Caldera's martial drumming made this one of the standout performances. rating: *** stars

Not something I'd want to hear all the time, but given I was expecting to hear a collection of bland, jazz-rock fusion moves, this was actually quite enjoyable.

"Coming Down with Love" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Coming Down with Love (Joe Romano) - 3:45
2.) I'm In Heaven (Joe Romano) - 3:39
3.) Ridin' High (Joe Romano) - 3:30
4.) Luci-Boy (instrumental) (Joe Romano) - 4:34

(side 2)
1.) Midnight Flight (instrumental) (Joe Romano) - 4:59
2.) Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (Joe Romano) - 2:54
3.) Steal Your Love (Joe Romano) - 3:26
4.) Every Now and Then (Joe Romano) - 3:05
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