Various Artists: Jazz After Dark (2003)
Slow jazz, a cozy fireplace and the right companionship. Who could ask for anything more?
Playboy Jazz seeks out and finds the real thing on Jazz After Dark, a two-disc collection of downtempo numbers. Each of these slow ballads comes with a serious pedigree. Duke Ellington and his orchestra feature Johnny Hodges on “Prelude to a Kiss.” Monk interprets “’Round Midnight” as no other artist can. Miles performs “My Funny Valentine” with his quartet. John Coltrane and Kenny Burrell form a duo for “Why Was I Born?” Similarly, Ella and Joe Pass maintain the slow pace with a lovely duet on “At Last,” and Tony Bennett interprets “You Must Believe In Spring” with pianist Bill Evans.
Disc One is dedicated to instrumental ballads, while Disc Two presents fourteen memorable vocal performances. Everything runs nice and slow. Each of these passionate ballads has been released previously; most of them on the Concord Jazz label. The Jazz After Dark compilation puts similar items together for a unique session. While the label has proven to be – thus far – rather eclectic, this project manages to collect like themes. What’s more, Playboy Jazz has drawn upon the core of jazz for all of its material. Recommended, this two-disc album lives up to the esteemed reputation, with respect to mainstream jazz, that Hugh Hefner has carried for many decades.
Track Listing: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning; Prelude to a Kiss; Everything Happens to Me; My Funny Valentine; Why Was I Born?; The Peacocks; Spring Is Here; Blue In Green; Angel Eyes; Corcovado;
Personnel: Miles Davis, Clark Terry, Willie Cook, Shorty Baker, Cat Anderson, Ray Nance, Warren Luening, Jack Sheldon, Roy Eldridge- trumpet; Bob Enevoldsen- valve trombone; Lou McCreary, Quentin Jackson, Britt Woodman- trombone; John Sanders- bass trombone; Jim Self- tuba; Johnny Hodges, Ernie Powell, Lester Boone, Jimmy Powell, Gary Foster- alto saxophone; Russell Procope- alto saxophone, clarinet; Jimmy Hamilton- tenor saxophone, clarinet; Frank Wess, Paul Gonsalves, Stan Getz, Scott Hamilton, John Coltrane, Ken Peplowski- tenor saxophone; Bob Efford, Harry Carney- baritone saxophone; Hendrik Meurkens- harmonica; Joe Pass, Howard Alden, Ron Eschet