The Ritz Music In The Air





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Published on Apr 2, 2010

A jazz vocal group consisting of mainly new or emerging artists. Personnel includes Daryl Bosteels, Melissa Hamilton, Van Hawk, Christopher Humphrey, Jeff Auger, Marty Ballou, Fred Haas, and Les Harris, Jr. They've made four albums thus far for Denon, one a Christmas release, with their most recent effort featuring a guest stint from Clark Terry. ~ Ron Wynn, All Music Guide

Vocal jazz fans, if you've never heard of The Ritz, quick, give Amazon your credit card number and get yourself a copy of this little gem (and its sibling, "Movin' Up") - how amazing to see this music available again!!

The Ritz was a cool little jazz combo centered in Boston back in the 80's, a smoothly rhythmic vocal quartet with a rhythm section to die for. As a local music student with a love of jazz, I caught them live in concert whenever I could and mourned when the group started breaking up in the very late 80's/early 90's.

To be blunt, this group was everything that I'd always felt Manhattan Transfer SHOULD have been - they're sharp, they're together, they're rhythmically clean, they have a close vocal blend (but without that irritating over-precision that goes too far in the other direction) - and best of all, when they swing, it sounds like jazz, not rock or pop. To steal a line from a vocalese on this album, they've got "just that certain combination of real and tight"... ah, but BEST of all, True Believers - these cats SCAT! (Heck, Bob Stoloff, whose vocal work is featured here, literally wrote the book on scat - several books, in fact, two of which are still in print and sold by Amazon - check it out!)

This is the album that started my love affair with the Ritz. A few high points? Daryl Bosteels' suavely musical exposition of a wild, eminently raid-able party in "Saturday Night Fish Fry" - the perfect voice for jazz storytelling, flexible and expressive. Tone clusters like bunches of ripe grapes in the gently, sweetly dissonant a cappella "A Child Is Born". The four-at-a-time scat chorus in "Scrapple from the Apple". That wonderful, creative segment of pure vocal percussion in "Ooh Yah". A sultry jazz flute in the playful "Summer Burn". The single sweetest recording of any jazz ballad I've ever heard, in the bittersweet and softly pensive "It Never Entered My Mind". Moments when the voices sound like a soaring horn section... great arrangements by energetic lead vocalist Sharon Broadley (it was never the same without her)... crisply rhythmic vocalese penned by drummer Les Harris, Jr. (who will always be my archetypal image of a jazz percussionist)... the list goes on... and on...

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Comments • 8

Bear Hamilton
I never quite got the whole story on what happened with The Ritz. Melissa Hamilton is my sister. Today, she sings jazz with various artists in the NYC area. There's a vid of her singing "Humpty Dumpty Heart" with pianist Lee Tombulian here on You Tube. My take is they got tired of the touring, and wanted to explore other interests that touring precluded. The Ritz enjoyed popularity in Germany and Japan, and they performed quite a bit in those countries. Sis wasn't on this album, the group's first release. She joined a short time later replacing Rebecca Hardiman. "Flying" and "The Spirit Of Christmas" are my two favorites of all their work.
Rebecca Hardiman
Ray Hardiman is on Piano.  I guess it's hard to list the correct personnel???
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Tremendous! Thx for the posting & the backstory. BT
Bob Stoloff
I'm singing on this album along with Daryl Bosteels, Sharon Broadley-Martin and Becky Hardiman. The Ritz had many incarnations, this was 1986.
Kathy Trim
Just happened to pick "Movin' Up this afternoon to take in the car with me. I hadn't listened to it for a while, and it seemed even better than before. Really like this group. Why and how did the group disband?
These records are hard to find now. Vocalists on this tune are Sharon Broadley, Rebecca Hardiman, Bob Stoloff, and Daryl Bosteels. Frank Wess on Saxophone.
go sharon!
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