Philadelphia has been a rich treasure chest of jazz talent. Jimmy Smith, Bobby Timmons, Ray Bryant, Joey DeFrancesco, Kenny Barron, the Eubanks Brothers, the Heath Brothers, and a host of others. Peaking out of this talent is Toni Harris, Ms. Jazz. On the scene since the early 1990's, Ms. Harris is coming into her own on her new release, Second Chances
Her vocals are a mixture of Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, and Betty Carter. Her vocal stylings err on the side of Latinesque (hear "Dimples" and "Over The Rainbow"), particularly with Bill Easley's flute laying down a bit o' Bossa. She can sing a rave up also as witness on her scat of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce. "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me" is all soul, from her punchy vocals to Michael Abene's jaunty arrangement. "Take the Train" is, of course, the vocal rendition of Strayhorn's anthem, deliver with the same creative force as "Do Nothing...." Both are sophisticated blues.
In all, Toni Harris has bountiful talent and Second Chances is a worthy listen for jazz vocal aficionados. Ms. Harris makes this music swing and is a worthy credit to the great jazz town she hails from.
Personnel: Toni Harris: Vocals; Michael Abene: Piano; Lisle Atkinson: Bass; Richard Allen: Drums; Bill Easley: Saxophone and Flute.