from Good Times Magazine – Issue 18; June 9 – July 7, 2005 by Syl Nathan
Independently produced but as major league as any self-produced disc you’ll ever hear, Live at the Azure Cafe is certainly a treat for contemporary jazz lovers – but is tuneful and accessible enough for music fans of any stripe to enjoy.
Fogg, from Maine, performs constantly in the region with vocalist [Nicole] Hajj, and it’s not hard to see why. Fogg’s arranging skills are the equal of his fluid, expert piano style, and this disc of 11 tracks recorded during an intimate performance at Freeport’s Azure Cafe proves these are jazz musicians as talented as any performing today. It’s only a matter of time till this disc–and these musicians–break through on a national level.
At risk of laying on the hyperbole too thickly, we’ll tell you there isn’t a bad note on this entire disc. Hajj is a lilting, smooth vocalist with great range and style. Fogg’s playing is innovative without being overwhelming, proving himself a musician’s musician. And the band–bassist Andy Rice, guitarist Lucas Cantor, drummer Shawn Boissoneault and clarinetist Brad Terry–provide perfect backup for the talented duo.
The song selection here provides a perfect showcase for the duo’s skills. “Twisted,” made famous by Joni Mitchell, is given a fresh face thanks to a jazzy new arrangement. Chestnuts such as “Night and Day” and “Cry Me a River”–miracle of miracles–sound fresh and vibrant for the first time in years. Even “My Funny Valentine,” thanks to a moving, bravura performance by Fogg, rings from the speakers like a new composition. We can’t stress this point too strongly: This could be the finest disc of any genre produced in Maine this year. If your ears are mature enough to appreciate it, run, do not walk, to spend an evening Live at the Azure Cafe.