E. J. Decker
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E. J. Decker

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


A JOB OF WORK (Tales of the Great Recession): Liner writer Bobby “Jazz Mind” Jackson has it perfectly encircled when he notes that E. J. Decker’s work is a matter of “easy-going unpretentiousness … [with] the common touch … [and] an immediate likability,” ’cause that’s exactly the way I felt upon hearing the very first cut — a great do-up of an obscure Tom Paxton gem, “A Job of Work” ... Why did he choose to cover Tom’s piece? I suspect for the same reason as Paxton: E. J.’s a prole and has the generosity of mind to empathize with the honest, if somewhat blind, sentiments of others just trying to get by.

... Decker seems like the kinda cat who works in a steel mill, a cabinetry factory, maybe even a mine, and puts in a hard day’s work, then heads home to knock back a beer, throw on an LP and sing along, figuring out the thematic and melodic variations as he goes. It might be that often lower-register voice, distantly mindful of Paul Robeson, or it might be the unavoidably masculine atmosphere he can’t help but occupy (again that honesty: ya gotta be what ya are), or perhaps it’s the metropolitan Humanism that pervades his work.

Whatever it is, it fascinates because it melds the common with the exotic, in a perfect cross of the urban mundane alongside an aesthetic that refuses to die, to blow away and occupy a ghost land. Instead, it waits patiently and then recurs whenever someone like Decker finally comes along. “Born to Lose” is perhaps the most perfect example. Delivered in honky-tonk parlance, think of it as the version that came from Texas and a jazzed-up hipster Willie Nelson, instead of Georgia and Ray Charles. - FAME (Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange), Mark S. Tucker


[A JOB OF WORK (Tales of the Great Recession)] is a well thought out and beautifully arranged CD.

Elliott Ames
WVOX AM 1400 - WVOX AM 1400, Elliott Ames


A JOB OF WORK (Tales of the Great Recession):
Decker takes steps to make it count and stand out as well. A wild set of quiet fire that has 'after hours' written all over it. - MIDWEST RECORD, Chris Spector


"I'm telling you, man, this cat can SING!!"

Johnny “Tasty” Parker, trumpeter (Count Basie, others)
- Trumpeter Johnny “Tasty” Parker (Count Basie, others)


“It’s so nice to finally hear someone who knows what they’re doing!”

Laurel Watson, legendary jazz vocalist (Basie, Ellington, Sonny Stitt)

- Legendary jazz vocalist Laurel Watson (Basie, Ellington, Sonny Stitt)


WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS...: I can HONESTLY say that your CD blew me away ... right from the first song, title cut, I knew I had a winner in my hands. [I] love your voice and while one has to always compare voices to other known singers, you have your own sound. I guess the singers mentioned, like Eckstine, Williams and Prysock, have something in common with you and that is clear diction and the ability to blend well with the band and make your (his) vocal another "instrument."

After repeated listens, I put this CD in the "must have" category. It is one of those CDs that always puts you in a good mood. ...

I had a call the other night when I played "Since I Met You Baby," from a woman who said you sounded a little like Elvis. I guess she was talking about the sexy way you sing on this song.

Craig Turner
52ND ST. JAZZ
WPNE 89.3 FM

- WPNE 89.3 FM, Craig Turner


WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS...: [E.J.] Decker sings in a deep baritone voice while being accompanied by an up-tempo quintet on While the City Sleeps... (Candela EJ9265). His presentation is lush, and his songs have a tinge of brash elegance. Decker has a way of presenting his tunes using dynamic flair, and he commands attention through his direct and forceful delivery. He seems to prefer singing lesser-exposed standards, and he displays a bold stroke of authority on each of them. He also composed one of the program's ballads where his low voice effectively stretches and holds the notes. Decker keeps the melody line always in sight, but he does have a knack for accentuating phrases and word endings to give uniqueness to his performance. ...

The band ... plays with incisive strokes in keeping with the pace set by Decker and his strong voice. They are able to get brassy and overt without diminishing Decker's role. The band stretches out with choruses of swinging music during the vocal breaks, filling in all the spaces with full-bodied blowing. Even with all its strength, the band does not steal any of the thunder of Decker. When he reenters, he is in full charge, giving a fruity flavor to each tune. Decker sings many romantic tunes, but he does not come across as a sentimental romantic. There is just too much punch in his style to make that association. Nevertheless, he is a solid entertainer.

Frank Rubolino
CADENCE Magazine
Vol. 27, No. 11
- CADENCE MAGAZINE, Frank Rubolino


WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS...: ... Among the high points on this album are his rich, baritone voice, a similarly rich knowledge of the jazz vocabulary, and the consistently solid performances of the instrumentalists.

One is first struck by Mr. Decker's rich baritone voice. It reminds the listener of Johnny Hartman, Billy Eckstine and so many great crooners of the past. His tone is resonant, his articulation immaculate. Mr. Decker's vocal inflection shows a clear understanding of the lyrics for each of his selections.

Similarly, he evidences a rich and far-reaching vocabulary of jazz and jazz influences. It is obvious, from the tune selection upward, that Mr. Decker is aware of the roots of this idiom. From "Tenderly" to "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" to "Sea Cruise," he offers a thorough presentation of his knowledge of the phraseology of the genre.

For instance, on "It's Just a Matter of Time," a down-home blues selection, he uses all the slides, smears, growls and inflection of a true blues-man. From this extreme, to the other; on "Sea Cruise" (not generally thought of as a jazz song) he is equally familiar with appropriate devices, inflections and style. Mr. Decker does a wonderful job in synthesizing the jazz lexicon into his own luxurious style. ...

His voice is easy to listen to, and could become a favorite for anyone looking for a gratifying experience within the male vocal arena. Also, his knowledge of jazz is quite clearly expansive. ...

Scott Gotschall
JAZZ IMPROV Magazine
Vol. 4, Number 2

- JAZZ IMPROV, Scott Gotschall


WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS...: 4 Stars – ... E. J. Decker has a strong voice touched by that of Billy Eckstine, although he has his own sound. While Decker mostly sings the lyrics and themes of the dozen songs fairly straight (although with swing), his quintet adds a strong jazz content to the music. ... Highlights include "While The City Sleeps," "Tenderly," "Since I Met You Baby" and "You Don't Know Me."

Scott Yanow
ALL MUSIC GUIDE
- ALL MUSIC GUIDE, Scott Yanow


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

On the player above, hear five tracks from E. J.'s earlier album, WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS..., which E. J. also arranged & produced. But be sure to play them loud, as the gods intended!

E. J.'s new album, A JOB OF WORK (Tales of the Great Recession, focuses on the current financial disaster & its impact on different people. NOW AVAILABLE on CDBaby.com, Amazon.com & iTunes!

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E. J. Decker / REVIEWS & BIOGRAPHY

From a review for
WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS...
4 Stars: "... a strong voice touched by that of Billy Eckstine ..."
—Scott Yanow, ALL MUSIC GUIDE

From reviews for
A JOB OF WORK (Tales of the Great Recession)
"... Decker takes steps to make it count and stand out as well. A wild set of quiet fire that has 'after hours' written all over it ..."
—Chris Spector, MIDWEST RECORD

"A well thought out and beautifully arranged CD ..."
—Elliott Ames, WVOX

"... It might be that often lower-register voice, or it might be the unavoidably masculine atmosphere he can't help but occupy (again that honesty: ya gotta be what ya are), or perhaps it's the metropolitan Humanism that pervades his work. Whatever it is, it fascinates because it melds the common with the exotic, in a perfect cross of the urban mundane alongside an aesthetic that refuses to die."
—Mark S. Tucker, FAME (Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange)

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E. J. Decker is a large man with a big voice. A jazz baritone from the Billy Eckstine / Johnny Hartman / Arthur Prysock / Joe Williams school of low notes, E. J. grew up the youngest in a musical household: his mother was a pianist, and his father a big band singer, who sang briefly with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in the months before they hired Sinatra and who often played early jazz & Big Band recordings for his sons. His brothers later introduced him to '50s R&B, rock & roll and '60s jazz and folk music.

While still in his teens, E. J. sought out his heroes in nightclubs and concerts around NYC, catching live performances by Duke Ellington, Sammy Davis, Jr., Thelonious Monk, Oscar Brown, Jr., Jimmy Smith, the original Dave Brubeck Qrt. and Alberta Hunter — as well as Leon Russell, Richie Havens, Tom Rush, Genya Ravan & Ten Wheel Drive, Leonard Cohen, the Association, Janis Ian, Tom Paxton, the Byrds and the Jefferson Airplane. He learned much from all of them, stole much from many of them and began finding his own voice.

E. J. later sang in rock bands and R&B groups on both coasts, and spent years on the folk music circuit, playing festivals and cafés up and down the West Coast. In the 1980s, he also acted in theater and on television, appearing regularly on NBC's now-departed soap opera, "Texas."

E. J. eventually "came home" to his father's material — filtering it through all the sounds he had heard along the way.

Today, E. J. glides easily from jazz through pop to standards to rock to folk to '50s R&B to blues — and is among the strongest, purest male interpreters of ballads of this generation — all while maintaining a consistency of sound and feel that marks it immediately as an E. J. Decker piece. As reviewers and fans alike often point out, due to his deep, rich voice, he definitely has his own sound.

When he performs live, any given set may contain songs by writers as diverse as the Gershwins, Cole Porter or Billy Strayhorn. Or just as possibly, Tom Paxton, Ivory Joe Hunter, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, or the Beatles — or even one of his original compositions — each filtered through E. J.'s singular sensibility. Given his unique background, it's little surprise that E. J.'s style has been described as "biker Gershwin."

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E. J. has sung in festivals, concerts and in most of the jazz venues of New York, including: Birdland (both uptown and midtown), J’s, The Garage, Enzo's Jazz, The Cornelia St. Cafe, Sweet Rhythm, Cleopatra’s Needle, The Squire, The Bacchus Room, The Triad, The Savoy, Chez Suzette, The Redeye Grill and Zinno’s, among others. He also stands as one of the very few vocalists ever booked into the legendary Columbia University-area jazz haunt, Augie’s — which evolved into the jazz club, Smoke.

E. J. has sung with a wide array of talents, such as Randy Sandke, Eric Lewis (ELEW), Benny Powell, David Lahm, James Weidman, Manny Duran, Dena DeRose, Bob Kindred, Eric McPherson, Claire Daly, Joe Vincent Tranchina, Ratzo Harris, Dave Hofstra, Christopher Dean Sullivan, Tom Melito, Peggy Stern, Les Kurtz, Elizabeth Frascoia, Sean Smith, Tom Melito and Saadi Zain, as well as the late Terri Thornton and Johnny "Tasty" Parker — among others.

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E. J. was surprised and honored years ago when the owner of the famous NYC Chelsea-area club, The Squire, personally booked him — from among all of the many talented artists who had played there over the years — to sing the final song on the club’s closing night.

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Formed in 2002, The September Concert is a