Savoy Seven – Focus Pocus is no Hocus it’s for Real

glenncrytzerssavoysevenGlenn Crytzer is at it again with a whole new project – the Savoy Seven – and they’re taking Crytzer’s pre-war jazz vision to a whole new level! “Focus Pocus,” the band’s debut release is my favorite of Glenn’s work to date. It hit my desk a couple days ago and I’ve been spinning it ever since.

Obviously well-studied, these cats lay it down in the old style like nobody’s business! Playing together like a precision driver and his favorite auto, they deftly navigate the twists and turns of the seven tunes on their debut. Cool horns, tight guitar, smooth sax and clarinet (oh, I do dig some clarinet) and swinging percussion make a perfectly dance-able bed for Crytzer’s lyrics.

Speaking of lyrics… Glenn writes of love and having the blues, rainy days and the other side of the fence in a remarkably honest and straightforward way that I could identify with immediately. Whether serious or with tongue-in-cheek wit, he has a fantastic way with words and melody and never over-plays the part.

True to the form as laid down by the great Count Basie and others from the day, everything is done as a unit, together and on cue. Their minimalist approach is one of their greatest strengths.

In our age of modern recording with pop songs that take months to produce and involve layers of literally hundreds of tracks and over-dubs, the Savoy Seven laid down the songs on “Focus Pocus” in an hour and a half! That’s unheard of these days, and would have impressed even the likes of Duke Ellington or Glenn Miller, who wouldn’t have approached the studio until their big-bands had every note down to perfection. With only two mics in the room ( I imagine one on the drums and the group gathered around another) the group put the songs down and Glenn dubbed the vocal over the top. The result is a beautiful mix and I could go on and on about the recording alone!

The Savoy Seven are  Mike Davis (trumpet), Evan Arntzen (clarinet/tenor sax), Craig Flory (alto sax), Solomon Douglas (piano), Jen Hodge (bass), Julian MacDonough (drums), and Glenn Crytzer, on guitar and vocals. The group will be appearing at the San Diego Traditional Jazz Festival over Thanksgiving weekend.

This is not the first time we’ve heard from Glenn. Joshua Smotherman reviewed his last project “Skinny Minne” a while back. He was equally blown away by the music and the production. With any luck, I’ll be able to get Glenn to spend a few minutes with us on “Mid Tenn Listens,” soon. I’d just love to pick his brain for a bit.

Till then, well, I think I’ll look for a good ball-room dance teacher and keep be-boppin’ along to this truly authentic disc for quite a while. Thanks, Glenn and co.! You guys have restored my faith that it’s still possible to make music without Fruity-loops or Reason!

You can get your copy of “Focus Pocus” at CD Baby.

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