OLD FLAMES NEVER DIE
The world of male vocalists is, perhaps, the most bracketed in all of jazz, and the light-voiced, bewitching, cabaret-friendly Campbell doesn't neatly slot into any of the established spaces. But Campbell's skills and emotional draw are second to none. His extraordinary "Loving You: Celebrating Shirley Horn" should have risen from obscurity to become the sleeper vocal album of its year, and "Old Flames Never Die" deserves that same skyrocketing trajectory.
Working, once again, atop a drum-less combo operating with taste and restraint, Campbell proves spellbinding. From the opening take on Fred Hersch's "Stars" all the way through to the end of the date, he wraps his chiffon-laced cords around a lyric as if embracing the words with a knowing and understanding hug.
With an honesty about self and song, a knack for picking slightly overlooked numbers from classic tunesmiths, a strong kinship with his band mates, and sharp arranging ideas, both as an individual and collaborator, Campbell clearly has a solid skill set. But in the end, brushing all of that aside, it's really his voice that carries the day. Despite the industry's need for tagging artists and placing them into different bins, all the great ones remain individualists. And Peter Campbell, who may carry a lower profile than he deserves, is most certainly that.
DAN BILAWSKY, ALL ABOUT JAZZ
The best album of the year (so far) crept up and caught me on the cusp of the virus, but thankfully in time to keep me company through this and future madnesses.
Peter Campbell’s own website doesn’t tell much of a story… frankly, a bit of intrigue works for the man. He seems to have mysteriously materialized at the microphone, not a frightening ghost but an airy, melancholy spirit getting intimate with that mic and a gossamer-small audience in a hypothetical cabaret. Noisier, brassier acts might take his place later on; but that means nothing. He knows the fleetingness of the moment and the uncertainty of the future, so he accedes to the now and occasionally, understandably, hides in the past.
Campbell sings ahead, behind, and squarely on the beat, never muffing a move, sounding old and young, male and female; and yes, sad, but grasping the happiness in communicating sad. The soft pride, worn lightly, of a job well done, a vocation fulfilled.
A jazz/cabaret vocalist that knows a vast survey of songs to pick from and can mix them all into a seamless whole no matter what era they are from. Classy, up market entertainment, he's a solid vocalist that knows how to take you away for a while and bring you back to a much better place. With smart jazzbos in tow, this cat delivers the whole package in fine form.
CHRIS SPECTOR, MIDWEST RECORD
… an absolutely beautiful and poignant recording from vocalist Peter Campbell. The choice of material, both contemporary and classic - plus Peter's sensitive and tender vocal style - puts a new spin to the traditional jazz vocal classics album. The arrangements and delivery from the masterful collection of assembled musicians is effortless and lush, and - combined with Peter's exceptional vocals - make this a unique and desirable jazz vocal album that is refreshing and sophisticated.
MARTY “MEMPHIS” DELIA, THE JAZZ MUSIC BLOG (AUSTRALIA)
DAVIS JOACHIM, “MY KIND OF JAZZ,” CIDI 99.1 FM, QUEBEC
[Campbell's] voice soars and has a… quality and clarity that is compelling. The Toronto-based band accompanying Campbell is a truly phenomenal collection of talent.
DAVID REED, THE BRANTFORD EXPOSITOR
Luminous tenor Peter Campbell gives dreamy and Broadway-toned readings to a collection of reflective standards, supported by the sensitive team of Adrean Farrugia, Reg Schwager, Ross MacIntyre, Kevin Turcotte and Michael Occhipinti. Turcotte’s horn adds a bluesy dimension to the slinky “My, How the Time Goes By” and is classy with Farrugia on a gentle “If You Leave Paris,” while a Latin pulse is caressed by Campbell and company for “I Got Lost in His Arms.” Occhipinti’s guitar effects add extra texture and drapery as it contrasts with the acoustic strings on “Old Flames Never Die” and create a mystic haze with Farrugia during “Above the Clouds” before Campbell gives a glistening recital on “Both Sides Now.” Serious and sincere.
GEORGE W. HARRIS, JAZZ WEEKLY
Campbell's high, soft voice and cantilena-like manner of singing are literally enveloping. In the years when jazz was "pop" music, such a voice could be described as seductive. The songs are the perfect background for a small jazz café or an evening with your beloved. Assisting Campbell is a team of strong Canadian sidemen.
LEONID AUSKERN, JAZZ QUAD, RUSSIA
[Peter Campbell’s] silky vocals have matured to power… Emotional and sound vocals should be more than enough anytime, but Campbell does more: he has insisted in surrounding himself with a group of exceptional musicians who have also clearly become his “accomplices” throughout the years. Knowing what there is to know about his tone and range, he arranges the classics to better serve him – and, thus, to better shine through his vocals.
Campbell has also produced the album. His hands are “all on deck,” which gives listeners an added bonus: he is telling us a very personal story of love, loss and hope for the future, through a pristine choice of songs, as they fuse to his voice and delivery. Not in a ready-to-hear easy way, though: the album’s line-up is made of standards, but the ones here are not songs that have been taken on over… and over… and over by everyone in the business. The exception is most definitely Joni Mitchell’s eternal jewel, “Both Sides Now." In this particular case, if you’re already thinking "oh no, not again,” let yourself be amazed when you listen to it – you’re in for a special treat.
On a final note, it is crystal clear that Peter Campbell was not aiming for another "job well done." "Old Flames Never Die" finds the singer/arranger/producer expressing himself with a peak of confidence, while at the same time exposing his soul to the bone. There's joy, love and pride in this album – feelings in which we should all be finding ways to bask in, over all the hardship of the dangerous months to come.
RICARDO BELO DE MORAIS, "AS VOZES DO JAZZ," RADIO MOVIMENTO, PORTUGAL
I can't believe it's possible, but Canada is hatching an incredible number of talented jazz vocalists… And Peter Campbell? He's one of them. Three years ago, he released the critically acclaimed album "Loving You" as a tribute to legendary jazz pianist and singer Shirley Horn. Now he's following up with a new, beautiful, melodic and lyrical vocal jazz album, "Old Flames Never Die," which leaves no doubt about his level as a crooner. The album opens with a stunningly beautiful version of Fred Hersch and Norma Winstone’s “Stars.” Again, Peter Campbell… manages to create a delicate concoction. His tone, expression and style remain exciting and rigorous, pure and believable. The album as a whole is a technical and artistic surplus, a cornucopia of contiguous facets.
IVAN ROD, GAFFA MAGAZINE, DENMARK