Evening Herald 20th July 2006 JAZZ
Hession take on Sinatra gems a winner
HOT on the heels of another remarkable sell out Hession performance at the National Concert Hall - Dublin is the release of his second album, Get out of town.
Sean Hession recently described as having "an obsession with the profession of vocal virtuosity", left the stage of the NCH last month to a standing ovation, having showcased many of the songs on the new CD.
Now recognised as the foremost interpreter of all things Sinatra, Hession's latest recording digs deep into the vast reservoir of material that Ol' Blue Eyes made his own and came up with long lost gems that Sinatra never recorded but should have!
With what can only be described as true pioneering spirit or utter foolhardiness, Hession's gamble to record "unknown" material has certainly paid off.
On a tight budget for such a project - 16 musicians, arrangements, recording studio cost for a start - Hession's Get out of town takes the singer and his ensemble to new levels.
The production is seamless, the playing confident and Hession's voice a real joy.
Indeed, it would be hard to choose a standout track from the 16 - but personal favourites include Tangerine, Empty Tables and You Don't Know What Love Is.
At a time when Frank Sinatra Jr is releasing his first studio album in a decade, Sinatraphile Hession has his second out in the last few years. Whatever about Jr's latest, the bet would still be on Hession. He's is one of the better of the maestro's musical offspring, derivative certainly, but with a rich baritone and an unabashed pleasure in donning the mantle of Ol' Blue Eyes.
Hession is in good form on this latest, with Dave Gold's big band, a programme drawn from the Great American Song Book and appropriate arrangements by Gold and Jim Doherty. Fine soloists in guitarist Louis Stewart, tenors Michael Buckley and Brendan Doyle, trumpeter Aidan Kelly and Davey Martin on fluglhorn garnish the musical offering and, in what must have been a quite pressured recording situation, the band does a good job.
Red hot licks from a sublime Hession
16th December 2004
Seán Hession has been nothing short of shocked by the critical acclaim that has been heaped on his new album, The Hession Session. It has 16 tracks - of which at least half have been seen as the personal fiefdom of one Francis Albert Sinatra for almost six decades.
But Hession's interpretation of the 'Great American (Sinatra) Songbook' on an album that was a long time in the making, now marks out the Dublin - born singer - once and for all - as a true artist in his own right.
This is not a re-working of Sinatra favourites. What we have here is a gifted Irish musician bringing something new to evergreen classics, breathing vitality back into them, ably assisted by a stellar Irish 16-piece orchestra.
Conductor and producer Dave Gold leads this ensemble, which includes luminaries like Noel Kelehan, Louis Stewart, Brendan Doyle, Jim Farley, Derek O'Connor and Karl Ronan, playing from uncluttered charts.
Every note counts; there is no waste. Hession is in top form, relaxed and obviously enjoying himself, which adds tremendously to a recording that gets this critic's vote as the best Irish album of 2004. We have produced some great small ensemble albums in recent years.
Now we have a big band as good as they get. It is currently available on the internet (www.franklysinatra.com) and in branches of Tower Records.
In the meantime, judge for yourself just how good band and singer are at their two Helix Mahony Hall gigs on December 17 and 18 at 8pm. Tickets are priced €30 and €35.
- MATT NUGENT
Irish master of the great American songbook
2nd June 2006
Seán Hession is coolness personified. He's sitting over a mid-morning coffee and fielding calls about CD cover notes, gigs and publicity.
He should have his new CD in his hands but it is delayed. He's required to do a gig this Friday at short notice - and then there is the small matter of another one of his epic Hession Session gigs at the National Concert Hall later this month!
Sean’s latest CD, "Get Out of Town, The Hession Session, Volume 2, trawls the vast American Songbook as recorded by Frank Sinatra. But here you will find some hidden gems wonderfully interpreted by Hession in big band, quartet and duo mode.
Hession believes that in all departments - musicianship, arrangements, production - it's a step up from his previous work.
Having had a sneak preview of the new record, it's clear that Hession, who is one of our most talented vocalists, is not bragging.
There is a joyousness about the playing that suggest that this was a labour of love. It helps, of course, when you have the country's best musicians to help the whole project move along smoothly, like Louis Stewart, Jim Doherty, Honor Heffernan, Michael Buckley, Brendan Doyle and arranger Dave Gold.
I have had the pleasure of catching Hession's latest masterpiece. You may have to wait slightly longer. But the album will be available by the time he takes his big band and special guests back to the NCH on June 15 where he will showcase much of the new material and many old favourites.
Tickets (priced from €25) are currently available from the NCH to catch one of our national treasures.
The Irish Times, 3rd December 2004
The Hession Session SHP ****
Singer Hession is an unabashed Sinatraphiliac, and one of the best of them.
Here, on what is clearly a labour of love, he pays homage to his master's voice with a collection of superior standards indelibly associated with Ol' Blue Eyes. Soaring happily over a shouting big band full of the cream of local talent, duetting hand-in-glove with guitarist Louis Stewart and pianist Noel Kelehan, and fitting snugly into a couple of jazz quartet settings, he emerges unscathed. Dave Gold's and Jim Doherty's arrangements recall the 1950s' and early-1960s' big band idiom of Sinatra's finest era and, with Stewart playing superb rhythm guitar and Hession swinging and phrasing in fine voice, this is a piece of nostalgia brimming with life.
Seán and the Sinatra sound, Jazz - Matt Nugent
August 17 1999
There are three and even four generations of the one family worldwide who are ardent Frank Sinatra fans, attracted to Old Blue Eyes' music, whether it be in the big band setting of Tommy Dorsey in the '30s, through the classic, soulful albums with Nelson Riddle of the '50s, or the top 10 hits of the '60s and '70s.
And he is still big business. There are hundreds of 'performers' worldwide making a good living as either lookalikes or mimics, copying the great man's every nuance and vocal inflections. Yet they all seem to lack that ability to capture what Sinatra was all about as a singer.
All except our own Seán Hession, whose critically acclaimed Frankly Sinatra show at Renard's last month makes a welcome - and early - return to the venue tomorrow night and next Wednesday as well.
There is more to Hession than just his uncanny resemblance to the sound of Sinatra. He is a musician who is a confirmed Sinatra follower, who interprets the master's repertoire with great dedication and feeling.
His programme tends to concentrate on the first three wonderful decades of Sinatra's career and with a trio of John Wadham (drums), Dave Fleming (double bass) and Myles Drennan (piano), he has the perfect small 'small orchestra' to show off his not inconsiderable talents.
This is currently one of the best night's entertainment in any genre in the Capital. So get to Renard's early not to be disappointed.
Go on, eat your heart out Ol' blue eyes, Jazz - Grainne Farren
28th November 2004
Frankly Sinatra: The Hession Session (Seán Hession Productions)
Seán Hession (vocals) with the Dave Gold Big Band. Featuring soloists: Karl Ronan (trombone), Derek O'Connor (alto sax) and Louis Stewart (guitar).
Seán Hession's amazingly accurate reproduction of the Frank Sinatra vocal style is well known by now. Not only the voice, but the timing, inflections and nuances have been studied over the years until a casual listener can be momentarily deceived into thinking that this is the real thing.
It's not that the Dublin singer slavishly imitates the master, bar by bar; rather he has internalised Sinatra's approach so completely that he can interpret a song in a way that Ol' Blue Eyes might well have thought of himself. This selection includes such all time favourites as The Tender Trap, Night and Day, Willow Weep for Me and Angel Eyes. The Dave Gold Big Band fills the Nelson Riddle role, playing arrangements by Jim Doherty and Dave Gold himself.
Seán Hession and The Dave Gold Big Band will play two concerts in The Helix, Mahony Hall, DCU, on Friday, December 17 and Saturday 18.
Capturing the Sinatra sound, Jazz - Matt Nugent
August 13 1999
With seriously good vocalist Seán Hession and his Frankly Sinatra tribute tonight and the distinctive sound of Scottish tenor sax player Bobby Wellins tomorrow and Thursday, Renard's Jazz Club once again offers a very diverse programme this week.
It was standing room only for Hession last week with his wonderful interpretation of the best of Sinatra.
Jazz - Matt Nugent
11th Nov 2004
It's finally arrived ... the long-awaited debut album from vocalist Seán Hession.
Aptly named The Hession Session, the CD (currently only available through Seán's website www.franklysinatra.com) manages to catch the intimacy and sound that makes a "Hession Session " so memorable.
The 16 piece backing band includes many of Ireland's finest jazz musicians, including Louis Stewart and Noel Kelehan. But the star of the show is Hession's rendition of 16 compositions from the Great American Songbook,made famous by Frank Sinatra.
The album would make a great Christmas gift for Hession's many fans - as would a pair of tickets for his two festive concerts at the Helix's Mahony Hall on December 17 and 18 at 8pm.
Now regarded as one of the country's top vocalists, Hession returns to the venue he sold out during June and December appearances last year.
Again he will be accompanied by the Dave Gold 16-piece Big Band for a surefire Sinatrafest.
Recognise This GUY?
He's the man with the plan who's done signature tunes for such brands as Finches Orange - "I've got you under my skin" and Toyota Ireland - " That's Life".
He the local voice who crooned the tune asking "Who wants to be a millionaire" for the National Lottery and most recently he's been working hard takin' things " Nice 'n' Easy" for Easygold. Any Ideas? Top marks to those who recognise not so Ol' Blue Eyes himself. Mr. Seán "as good as Frankie Sinatra any day, chief" - Hession.
Sounds Like Sinatra...
August 21 1999
JAZZ: Colm O'Sullivan has been fixing his tux for the 'Frankly Sinatra' show this week.
Singer Seán Hession, an uncanny Sinatra soundalike who has surrounded himself with some of the country's finest and most experienced jazz musicians, is busy these days purveying his quality show Frankly Sinatra to enthusiastic audiences.
Keep an eye out for him as his performances this week includeRenard's and the Gaiety (see Listings).