Allison Paris: Second Chances (2003)
Allison Paris and her group do a nice job of moving this musical project along. From the sound of it, she's worked with these musicians often and there is a keen interaction between the vocalist and them. It is no small feat to breathe life into some of these warhorses that have been overexposed over the years. After a tenor sax obligato and later solo from Jeff Lang, Paris provides a heartfelt version of "Lover Man."
In fact, the group is quite good at providing support for Paris through the session, especially Lang and trumpeter Carl Fischer. On "Mean to Me," after Paris digs into the Ahlert/Turk song, Fischer takes a brief high-note solo and again on the following "Invitation to the Blues." The late Bobby Forrester passed away a few months ago and this is believed to have been his last recording. I saw Forrester play several times over the years and he was a much sought-after keyboard player.
As a constructive thought, "Mood Indigo" is marred by the use of synthesizer strings, under Fisher's trumpet work, that envision this as a lounge number and cheapen the presentation. Likewise, half of these songs, albeit from the Great American Songbook, are ready for retirement for a few years. I'm sure that the patrons of a suburban club are happy to hear a good singer performing good songs but wonder if the big city gigs demand a little more for the set list.
Quibbling aside, these players do a fine job of working with the material that has been selected and provide the stimulus for both the vocals and a user-friendly audience.
Track Listing: Lover Man, Mood Indigo, I'm Beginning to See the Light, Don't Blame Me, Crazy He Calls Me, Embraceable You, Autumn Leaves, The Nearness of You, Mean to Me, Invitation to the Blues, Black Coffee, Good Morning Heartache, I Wish You Love.
Personnel: Allison Paris,vocals; Jim Ahrend,piano, arrangements; John Ray,bass; Kevin Dunne, drums; Carl Fischer, trumpet,flugelhorn; Jeff Lang, C-Melody sax, baritone sax, tenor sax, flute; Brian Ungar,guitar; Bobby Forrester,organ.