At age 61, Vineland native gets record deal as vocalist
By VINCENT JACKSON, Staff Writer
Paul Jost accomplished many things during his adult life making a living through music.
The 61-year-old Vineland native was the musical director at the Golden Nugget, served as a teacher at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and had a song recorded by The Band and Carl Perkins. Jost has performed or recorded with artists including Billy Eckstine, Dr. John and Ann Hampton Calloway. He’s also done drumming or vocals or played harmonica for major companies including Miller Beer and Nissan.
The one thing Jost never did was release a CD under his name as a leader. He finally did that with his recently released debut CD, “Breaking Through,” on Dot Time Records, based in New York.
“I’m probably more surprised than anybody else that I would sign a record deal at 61 years old. It has happened, and I’m not saying that it’s happening because I’m so great or anything. The percentages, c’mon, in our business, after you are 25, you are pretty much history, and here I am at 61 signing a deal and getting great support from the record label,” said Jost, a 1970 Vineland High School graduate.
Jost said he doesn’t believe half the reviews he has been reading, but they are encouraging.
“Paul Jost has raw passion and vocal musicianship. His arrangements defy the expected, his scatting is effortless, not tedious, and his energy would challenge any accompanying musicians, but his band is up to the challenge,” said H. William Stine at “Turntable for One,” a weekly, one-hour radio program of the best in jazz vocals.
“Vocalist Paul Jost is one of the best male jazz vocalists since Mark Murphy,” said Johan van Deeg, the founder of Jazz in Europe, an English-language website dedicated to all things jazz in Europe.
“Jost is truly an exceptional singer, instrumentalist and arranger. He masters every thinkable nuance of the singer’s palette, from lightning-fast scatting to smoky, blues phrasings and elegant crooning,” said Jakob Baekgaard, a contributor to allaboutjazz.com
The amazing thing about Jost’s musical career is that his time as a professional vocal soloist hasn’t been that long.
“I have been singing a long time. I’ve always been more playing drums for everybody else, writing, arranging, singing on jingles or singing on other people’s stuff, but the essence of what I’m doing right now – I’m launching a career as a vocalist soloist. This is my first solo CD – that’s a little bit different,” Jost said. “It’s only been in the past few years.”
Jost can be heard on vocals, harmonica and guitar on the two CD recordings of jazz group The Antfarm Quartet, “The Antfarm Quartet Dialogues, pt. 2” from 2007 and “The Antfarm Quartet Live” from 2011, released by Dreambox Media, based in Philadelphia. In The Antfarm Quartet, all four members – bassist Tim Lekan of Ocean City, drummer Bob Shomo of Linwood and pianist Jim Ridl of Weehawken Township, Hudson County, along with Jost – are equals in the group.
Jost appears on a CD released last year titled “Can’t Find My Way Home” by The Jost Project, a group started by vibraphonist Tony Miceli and acoustic bassist Kevin MacConnell. They invited Jost to be a part of the group and named the CD after him because of his arranging the talent and strong musical influence.
The key connection of The Jost Project was that it was released by Dot Time Records. Johanan Bickhardt, the owner of Dot Time Records, heard Jost’s voice for the first time.
“As a classically trained vocalist myself, I recognized that his vocal abilities lent itself beyond the norms of ensemble layering,” Bickhardt said. “Because he has a voice with multiple musical timbres, it is extremely special. He also makes it sound effortless, easy, and he is enjoying himself. He is the best male jazz interpretative vocalist I have ever heard.”
Jost’s CD is a mixture of songs that will be familiar and unfamiliar to the average music listener.
The better-known songs include “Singing in the Rain,” George and Ira Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” Cole Porter’s “All of You,” Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s “Days of Wine and Roses” and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “This Nearly Was Mine.”
Lesser-known songs include the jazz tunes “Blues on Corner” by pianist McCoy Tyner and “Waltz New” by guitarist Jim Hall.
Even when Jost sings the Great American Songbook standards that everyone knows by heart, his unique arrangements of the tunes are something that he is known for along with his vocalese, his wordless singing that can sound like a percussion or brass instrument.
“You start hearing the same sort of things. ‘You show this vulnerability,’ or ‘There is a passion in what you do. You can really tell that you love what you do. I’ve never heard that song that way before,’ in response to my arrangements. My twist of meaning in something you may have heard as very happy makes you think about it from a different point of view,” Jost said. “That’s a really beautiful thing, and I’m having a great, great time doing it.”
Bickhardt said he had no reluctance signing Jost even with his advanced age. “We live in a time where so much emphasis is placed on age or how old you are when you do or accomplish something. It’s truly foolish. George Bush Sr. jumped from a plane in his 80s. … So what!” Bickhardt said. “Joan Rivers was performing quite successfully until she died, as was Elaine Stritch into her late 80s. Maggie Smith is 79, and her work load is enormous. I don’t like this ‘Stop the bus’ concept and ‘Let the old folks off’ because we think age is a determining criteria of some sort. Paul’s got a long career in front of him if he wants it. I think our goal should be to book him at the Blue Note in NYC when he is 100.”
CD release party
Paul Jost and his quartet will perform songs from the CD “Breaking Through” 7:30 tonight at The Merion Inn, 106 Decatur St., at Columbia Avenue in Cape May. An all-you-can-eat pasta buffet dinner will be served 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Cost is $20 for the dinner and show. “Breaking Through” will be available for $15. The package cost for dinner, show and CD is $30. Seating is
limited; reservations are recommended. Call 609-884-8363 or see merioninn.com