Two venerable kings of swing, pianist Larry Vuckovich and vocalist Jon Hendricks, reunite on Vuckovich’s latest recording, Reunion
. Vuckovich’s career began in 1959 with a Lester Young influenced tenor player Brew Moore, who was a notable saxophonist and friend of Charlie Parker. Vuckovich’s recent recordings Young at Heart
and Blue Balkan: Then and Now
prove his musical longevity. Jon Hendricks has been called the “Father of Vocalese” and a jazz vocal innovator who has performed with jazz greats Art Blakey, Count Basie, and Dave Brubeck. He has also recorded with and influenced younger jazz singers such as Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Kurt Elling, and The Manhattan Transfer.
The two musicians began their 25-year association in the early 1960’s appearing in many jazz events across the world. What was apparent then still holds true now: these are two talented and classy gentlemen. The style of the recording is a pleasant mixture of classic swing with both vocal and instrumental pieces covering a variety of standards as well as newly recorded material.
The music recalls the sounds of Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and Count Basie. Vuckovich’s band from his Young at Heart recording is back and continues their exemplary musicianship. The compositions flow through the blues, swing, Latin, and other styles. The newly recorded "Lester Leaps In" and "Last Train from Overbrook" feature the band adding the right touches to Hendricks’s trademark scatting skills as he improvises vocal sounds that mimic horn solos. On "Shorty Indigo" and “Bye Bye Blackbird” his voice displays an impressive range of high and low notes which reveal high lyricism.
Those familiar with Vuckovich will find him in his usual fine form as his piano gently glides with nice comps, solos, and generosity to his band members. On "Flamingo" his piano is simply elegant and masterful. His composition "Lester's Minor Blues" is just plain cool with nice solos from the band as they smoothly articulate the theme. The music is delivered with an air of lightness as Vuckovich authentically demonstrates the essence of world-class swing.
Other highlights include a nice version of John Coltrane’s “Impressions” with strong saxophone solos and Hendricks’s lighthearted song of betrayal “Do You Call That a Buddy?” With both Vuckovich and Hendricks on the same bill, Reunion is a double treat for those looking for jazz and vocals that speak of a great era of music that is still in tune today.