Feelin’ It opens with the title track, a bouncy straight-ahead jazz tune with a good beat. This is a good introduction the musicians on the album and a good opening choice number. This is followed by a swinging, up-beat tempo version of ‘Softly as a Morning Sunrise’ – apparently inspired by the Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall version of the tune – that works very well. I like the way that Jim Witzel and Brian Ho share the lead on the melody and the contrast of sound between the two different instruments also works well. ‘Norwegian Wood’ is taken at a sedate pace and has a dreamlike, spacious quality about it. As with the previous track the guitar and organ sound work well together with Jason Lewis providing appropriately layered drum patterns over which the other musicians play.
‘Beyond Beijing’ is the first of the Jim Witzel compositions to be heard on the album and was written after returning from a tour of China. This is another good straight-ahead jazz tune featuring Dann Zinn on tenor. ‘I Loves You Porgy’ has Witzel playing both lead and rhythm guitar and although the sound is good, for me, it lacks an emotional connection. ‘If Ever I would Leave You’ is a great calypso style rendition of the song from the musical Camelot. The tempo is brisk, the playing crisp and sounds like fun.
‘Ms Information’ is the last of the Jim Witzel compositions to be heard on the album as well the final opportunity to hear Dann Zinn on tenor sax, and it is sax playing that opens the sound out and adds another layer of texture and colour to the proceedings. Dann Zinn’s sound is also a little freer in approach and contrasts against the compositional playing of guitar and organ, which, in my opinion, makes for a more interesting listening experience. ‘My Old Country’, written by Nat Adderley is the eighth and final track of Feelin’ It and brings the album full circle in that it finishes with another well-played straight-ahead jazz number.
The press release pack that I received with this album stated that:
Although Jim Witzel has an extensive resume as a sideman, he is not widely known outside of Northern California. Although he has been flying under the radar for far too long, his highly accessible playing and compositional talents on Feelin’ It will certainly garner new fans who are interested in organ/guitar/sax bands or anyone who likes fun, toe-tapping yet lyrical music.
To a certain degree I will agree with the statement above, the sound is accessible, the Witzel compositions are good, and the toes do tap and there is fun to had but … there is little here to make the album stand above a crowded guitar led field of jazz album releases. As good as the trio of guitar, organ and drums are, it is only when the sax is added did I really sit up and take notice of what I was hearing.
Musicians: Jim Witzel – guitar; Brian Ho – Hammond B3; Jason Lewis – drums; Dann Zinn – tenor saxophone.
Tracklist: 1. Feelin’ It. 2. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise. 3. Norwegian Wood. 4. Beyond Beijing. 5. I Loves You, Porgy. 6. If Ever I Would Leave You. 7. Ms. Information. 8. The Old Country.