Brian Trainor and Friends – Why Try to Change Me Now?

Brian Trainor and Friends
Why Try to Change Me Now?
(Summit – 2007)
by Mark Ruffin

This is a real sleeper of an album. Trainor is a pianist with okay abilities, but his friends are some very talented vocalists. Eleven of the twelve tracks are vocals, including three fine women whom I’ve never heard of and two very distinct and moderately well known male vocalists; the underrated Jon Lucien and the incredibly compelling Little Jimmy Scott. Scott’s work is downright stirring on the title track “Why Try To Change Me Now.” Scott also sings two other sad songs, “The Folks Who Live On The Hill” and “Every Time We Say Goodbye.”

In fact only two tunes on this album can truly be called uptempo in either spirit or pacing, but nearly every vocal performance is worth a listen, especially for fans of Scott and Lucien. Lucien is famous for his smooth jazz leaning and for his version of A.C. Jobim’s “Dindi,” which some people consider the definitive version of the song (my editor included.) In an acoustic setting his dark deep tenor resonates even more. Lucien also sings three songs including a bluesy version of the gospel standard “Take My Hand Precious Lord,” and Anthony Newly’s “Feelin’ Good,” which I like a lot.

But not nearly as much as the Trainor original “She Goes Home” featuring Steve Marcus on soprano sax. Trainor’s best solo is also on this track and Lucien does some fine scatting. Here’s the sad aspect of this album: Marcus died shortly after the completion of recording of this album. So did Trainor, two months before the release of the record. Look at Trainor on the cover with a cigarette and the ironic title, you’d think this was a farewell card from Trainor.

But he was in great health but had a fatal out-of-nowhere brain aneurysm. As it turns out, this is a fine farwell card, especially if you’re a fan of Little Jimmy Scott or Jon Lucien.