Frank Jurgens’ EP Recording Den Sessions harkens back to a style of music long past its commercial prime. The three songs written for the release mine the storied tradition of bluesy jazz and employ time-tested pop song structures in an effort to reach the widest possible audience. Jurgens doesn’t adopt a narrow artistic slant. His musicality includes the liberal use of brass, primarily saxophone, and piano to help flesh out the sound of each song. The center of it all, however, is his weather-beaten voice that, initially, may not seem like an ideal instrument, but captures your attention more as each song develops. Recording Den Sessions never sets out to remake the wheel, but it does remind us that venerable approaches are still valid and can speak to an early 21st century audience.
This quality comes across from the outset. “Suppose” figuratively grabs you by the lapels and demands your undivided attention. It’s an exciting ride to hear a performer so enthusiastic tackling a form like horn-driven jazz/R&B with a definite New Orleans vibe and he comes by it in a honest way. It doesn’t sound like it’s straining for effect. Jurgens’ natural affinity for the material leaps out at listeners and the song ends up going far beyond mere entertainment. He’s reaching for something more here, without losing sight of keeping his audience happy, and attentive listeners will hear on the first go around.
“What Veronica Wants” is cut from similar cloth but shows his lyrical range. There’s much more of a focus on interpersonal relationships here and one cannot help but feel that he’s culled the song from personal experience. It doesn’t veer off into obscurity, however, and this testifies to the depth of Jurgens’ talent. He’s able to write and perform songs with a great deal of personal meaning for him yet strikes an universal note that his listeners will recognize and relish. The saxophone playing sparks with tremendous verve and matches up well with his singing. It has the same sort of length as the first track, never overextending past the four minute mark, and the resulting focus aids the performance.
You hear the same focus at work with “You Could Be the Change”. He’s working near the peak of his powers here, fully involved in the moment, and bull rushes his way through the verses without sacrificing nuance. It’s a fantasic balancing act. His singing likewise makes it clear that Jurgens is a vocalist always attentive to the song’s musical identity and tailors his voice accordingly. The piano is exceptional, without question, and he ends the track with some particularly stellar saxophone riffing.
If old school jazz or R&B is your thing, with a healthy dollop of blues tossed in for good measure, Frank Jurgens’ Recording Den Sessions will be right up your alley. He’s a master stylist who throws every bit of himself into the performance and writes first rate material that serves his talents well. Three songs or not, this is a electric and power-packed release you won’t soon forget.