Harry Allen: Hits by Brits & Guys and Dolls
Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet
When it comes to giving standards a distinctly refreshed Swing Era spin, mainstream tenor sax ace Harry Allen is a nonpareil gem repolisher. On Hits by Brits he and a quartet salute songs popularized by great Brit big bands. The gentle intro from Joe Cohn's guitar and John Allred's lush trombone on Eric Maschwitz' great romantic piece, "These Foolish Things, lead into Allen's full bodied, dreamy, creamy spin on the main theme. There's also swinging a-plenty on "Got a Date With An Angel and further still when the entire group zoom through the exotic "Limehouse Blues, Chuck Riggs cutting loose with some intense drumming. For spinning around the dance floor in a blue mist haze, another Maschwitz WWII great, "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, is nostalgic romanticism at its persuasive best. Matters come to a superlative climax with "The Very Thought of You, on which the playing is so rich, so distinctive, it's as if each player is composing the music.
Guys and Dolls is a throwback to when jazz recordings of Broadway musical scores were a vital part of the musical scene. The show boasts standards from the sass and brass of "Fugue for Tinhorns to the romanticism of "The Eyes of a Woman in Love . Relishing the opportunity to celebrate Frank Loesser's urban masterpiece, The Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet goes to town with the added plus of hip vocalizing by Rebecca Kilgore and Eddie Erickson. Beginning with the opening title song Allen's tenor and Cohn's guitar have an extended and inventive conversation. It's also the right setting for Kilgore, whose warmth and clarity are reminiscent of a young Rosemary Clooney, while Erickson has the kind of hip gravelly voice akin to Matt Dennis or Bob Dorough. On the insouciant "Marry the Man Today , Kilgore breezily tosses it off with Allen and Cohn rocking behind her. "Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat is rousingly sung by Erickson with sizzling backing from Allen. Kilgore gives out with a dreamy "I've Never Been in Love Before , mixing it up with Cohn's easy rhythms and then a combo with Allen cheering Erickson on for the second verse. These guys and dolls have delightfully brought this Loesser treasure back better than ever.
Tracks and Personnel
Hits By Brits
Tracks: Cherokee; Roses of Picardy; Just in Time; These Foolish Things; I Hadn't Anyone Till You; You're Blase; Limehouse Blues; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square; Got A Date With An Angel; The Very Thought of You.
Personnel: Harry Allen: tenor sax; Joe Cohn: guitar; John Allred:trombone; Joel Forbes: bass; Chuck Riggs: drums.
Guys and Dolls
Tracks: Guys and Dolls; If I Were a Bell; A Woman In Love; Luck Be A Lady; Pet Me Poppa; Sue Me; Marry the Man Today; Take Back Your Mink; Adelaide; I've Never Been in Love Before; Fugue for Tinhorns; Adelaide's Lament; Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat; I'll Know; Guys and Dolls.
Personnel: Harry Allen: tenor sax; Joel Forbes: bass; Chuck Riggs: drums; Rebecca Kilgore: vocals; Eddie Erickson: vocals.