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Paul Jost Celebrates the 'Simple Life' with a Session on Singers Unlimited

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Jeffrey Apoian
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Singer Paul Jost, whose new album is 'Simple Things'

For a couple of years, before I heard Paul Jost singing, I heard about Paul Jost — from other singers!

Jost sings a residency every last Wednesday at 55 Bar. He came to WBGO to sing with a couple of the players on his new album, Simple Lifepianist Jim Ridl and bassist Dean Johnson.

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Jost’s voice is lyrical but with a breezy rasp. He’s always very emotional, always telling the story of a song. And he tells stories all across the musical spectrum on Simple Life — from “Caravan” to “If I Only Had a Brain” from The Wizard of Oz; from Jerome Kern and Ray Noble standards to Bob Dylan and Beatles songs.   

One highlight is the rapturous folk anthem “Shenendoah.” Another is the song “Everybody’s Talkin” from the movie Midnight Cowboy. Jost sings the latter as a remembrance of Mark Murphy, with whom he played drums and from whom he learned so much about singing. Murphy’s last years were troubled; he was misdiagnosed with dementia. Jost sings as if hanging on to his sanity and his soul.

Here are Jost and his accompanists performing the standard “Young and Foolish.”

Videography: David Tallacksen

Audio mix and video edit: Corey Goldberg

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Michael Bourne was a presence on the air at WBGO between the end of 1984 and the start of 2022, when he retired from full time hosting duty. He is the host of the Singers Unlimited Podcast by WBGO Studios. Previously, he hosted the popular Singers Unlimited (1985-2022). He also hosted the equally popular Blues Break for several years. Michael is a senior contributor to Down Beat, with the magazine since 1969. Doctor Bourne earned a PhD in Theatre from Indiana University -- which comes in handy when he's a theatre critic for the WBGO Journal.