(Mountain Apple Co.)
Jimmy Borges’ eponymously titled album is a project that’s been a long time coming. Borges has nightclub and showroom credits going back to the 1950s. He’s been recognized as Hawaii’s foremost male jazz vocalist since the 1970s. The Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. And yet, in his seven decades as a charismatic entertainer, he has made very few recordings. There’s his 1991 album, “Honolulu Lady,” released years before HARA added a jazz category to the Hoku Awards, and a 45-rpm vinyl single or maybe two. That makes this long-awaited album welcome indeed.
Going into the Mountain Apple Co. studios at the age of 80, Borges shows that for him — as for Tony Bennett — age is nothing but a number.
Most of the songs come from the great American songbook — that is, pop songs written before the dawn of the rock era in 1955, and songs written later but in that style. Borges has been singing them for decades and does them beautifully here.
Borges also ventures outside the songbook with successful takes on several Top 40 hits of more recent vintage.
Borges’ studio musicians are some of the best in the business, but anyone who remembers his days at Trappers in the Hyatt Regency Waikiki will enjoy his rendition of “Aloha ‘Oe” — recorded with Betty Loo Taylor, the pianist of his Trappers days — for sentimental reasons as well.