Gene Harris: Live (2002)

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Gene Harris and the Philip Morris All-Stars recorded a live session in 1995 at The University Club in San Diego. A finer group of jazz all-stars would be hard to find. With the pianist serving as the glue that holds it all together, Harris’ soulful piano catches fire on the first number and never lets up. George Mraz walks the bass lines confidently and delivers rooted riffs. Kenny Burrell adds some rhythmic color from time to time and stretches out dynamically for his solo spots. Lewis Nash handles the brushes and drumsticks without frills, while Sweets Edison and Stanley Turrentine share their wares unselfishly. "Time After Time" is a feature for the saxophonist, while Victor Young’s "I Wish I Knew" features Edison’s muted trumpet. Gene Harris plays a lot of notes, creating a session that never loses momentum and keeps your foot tappin’ throughout.

Burrell, who has taught a course on Duke Ellington at UCLA since 1978 and heads their Department of Jazz Studies, performs "Star Crossed Lovers" a cappella, slowly, and with feeling before inviting the piano trio to join him in an up-tempo romp through "Take the ‘A’ Train." Ernie Andrews, who at 70 continues to carry the male jazz vocalist torch along with a select few from his generation, is in fine form at this session. His tribute to Charlie Parker is one of Andrews’ specialties. The all-stars smoke on "Cottontail," as each of the six instrumentalists takes a turn in the spotlight. Moving at a rapid pace and improvising loosely, each artist demonstrates effortlessly what we’ve come to associate as their distinctive features: Edison plays it sweetly, Burrell moves lyrically and fast, Mraz articulates clearly, Nash employs the brushes as separate enunciators, Turrentine oozes fluid phrases, and Harris pounds the keys with enthusiastic hammerlike fingers.

Track Listing: Bag

Personnel: Gene Harris- piano; Kenny Burrell- guitar; Harry "Sweets" Edison- trumpet; George Mraz- acoustic bass; Lewis Nash- drums; Stanley Turrentine- saxophone; Ernie Andrews- vocals on the medleys "Collage in Blue" and "Low Down Blues Medley."

Record Label: Concord Music Group

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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