Here’s what some of the Jazz Critics are saying:
Marc Myers – Wall Street Journal/Jazz Wax: While I’ve hissed and moaned about new singers’ over-use of the American Songbook, I must reel that in a bit. Jim Altamore’s License to Swing took me aback. Altamore has a saloony sense of swing and control — and even sports Sinatra’s timbre. Yet he never makes the mistake of becoming a Frank impersonator. Instead, Altamore is a completely natural singer and plenty comfortable in his own skin. He tackles a few Sinatra staples (“Learnin’ the Blues,” “Nice ‘N’ Easy” and “All of You”), but he also takes on “Just One of Those Things”, “Beyond the Sea” and “The More I See You.” A thoroughly satisfying listen from a guy who sounds like the leather interior of a vintage Caddy.
Jerome Wilson – Cadence: Jim Altamore looks every inch the saloon singer on the back cover of “License to Swing,” wearing a tux with the top shirt button and bowtie undone and that is what he sounds like, doing songs associated with classic male night club singers like Sinatra and Darin. To his credit, the man has the voice for the job and doesn’t try to oversell his material, singing in a natural, flowing baritone that doesn’t imitate any of his predecessors.
Edward Blanco – eJazzNews: With the plethora of female vocalists dotting the jazz landscape these days, it’s nice and refreshing to hear a new and exciting male vocalist who can belt out a tune with the best of them. Let’s hope we’ll hear a lot more from Jim Altamore, maybe an encore to “License to Swing,” and next time perhaps fronting a big band, like the one Basie used to have.
Chris Spector – Midwest Record Review: If you’re in your mid 50’s and had a house full of Sinatra/Basie as the Beatles were just coming in, this is the record you’ve been looking for. Altamore swings, the jazzbos bringing up the rear are on fire and this is the record you wish you could have made when you were doing Vegas schtick in your parent’s paneled rec room when your Beatles-loving pals weren’t around. Stone cold killer Vegas hipster stuff that will just blow you away.
John Gilbert – Jazzreview: What a joy it is to receive an album that is true to the genre. This tribute to Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra is definitely not an imitation, but there is enough inflection to make one smile in appreciation for the heartfelt love that is generated by this fine singer…. To get into the heart and soul of the listener is no easy task and Altamore and company certainly do this with natural proficiency. Swing is king here and I am certainly a member of the assembled court.
George Fendel, and Kyle O’Brien – Jazz Society of Oregon: It’s obvious that Jim Altamore is joined at the hip with Frank Sinatra. But what you’ve got to like about Altamore is that, while he communicates some of the legendary Sinatra hip-chic, he doesn’t try to lay Sinatra on you. With a tasty and swinging small group backing him, Altamore’s on target with “All of You,” “Nice ‘N’ Easy,” “Call Me Impossible,” “Learnin’ the Blues,” “Just One of Those Things” and more. Frank was king, but Altamore is one of his loyal subjects.
Grego Applegate Edwards – Gapplegate Music Review: Jim Altamore looks to Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Bobby Darin as the important forebears of the tradition he continues and forwards. His vocal style is strong, relaxed, and to me has the particular ring of Old Blue Eyes as much as the other two. There is an uncanny resemblance in the tone of his voice and the phrasing. But yet the other two are there as well, and his delivery is distinctive enough that one feels that one is hearing the genre anew through a different set of pipes.