The Aaron Keele Contingent The Aaron Keele Contingent

Aaron Keele is well known on the Toronto music scene as a leading record collector and dealer. Fewer people know he was a promising jazz vocalist back in the early '90s, releasing an album, Present Idiolect, in 1995. He has now revived that career, to fine effect, on this, the Aaron Keele Contingent's second album, which is receiving rave reviews. He has a clean vocal style and nuanced phrasing, but it's his choice of material that's turning ears. Instead of revisiting the Great American Songbook, Keele turns to his record collection, unearthing tracks by the Smiths, Beck and Daniel Lanois, amongst others. The most leftfield choice, Kim Mitchell hit "All We Are," fares well here also. This approach can seem gimmicky, but Keele escapes that trap with his thoughtful renditions. It doesn't hurt to have such ace players as Marc Rogers, Rob Thaller and Davide DiRenzo in your corner, and the piano/bass/drums Contingent line-up works well. The haunting "Lonesome Tears" (Beck) is a stand-out, as is the version of Lanois's "The Collection of Marie Claire," featuring some fluent French diction. Elsewhere, it's a safe bet you've never heard "What Difference Does It Make" sound like this before. The one original, "Mama Waltz" (a co-write with David Wall), closes out this impressive record in tender fashion. (Tune Up)