The Vocal Series. Borrowing the majority of Christine Hitt’s band from her recording You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To. (MAXJAZZ 107), vocalist Asa Harris makes her MAXJAZZ debut with a collection of standards that is unique in itself. The fourth in a Vocal Series released by the new label, Harris is preceded by the aforementioned Hitt disc, LaVerne Butler’s Blues In The City (MAXJAZZ 105) and Carla Cook’s It’s All About Love (MAXJAZZ 106). All of these recordings have an interesting and often surprising mix of standards and some originals. Ms. Harris’ offering is no different.
Alpha est et O. I believe that Chicago-born Ms Harris addresses all of the major eras of jazz. Chronologically, she begins in the Stride era with a lilting “Jitterbug Waltz”, hits the Swing era with Tuxedo Junction (composed by her Uncle, Erskine Hawkins), and proceeds through the height of Tin Pan Alley with an up-tempo “Love For Sale”, a pensive “Someone to Watch Over Me”. She rounds out the disc with the Bebop balladry of “Lullaby of Birdland” and a very cool “Mack the Knife”. The overall feeling of this disc is laid-back brilliance. All of the performances are self assured and creatively arranged. Kudos to bassist Tom Kennedy for his superb playing in general and his over-the-top introduction on “Tuxedo Junction”.
The Song Is You; Daydream; A Time For Love; The Late, Late Show; Love for Sale; It Never Was You; The Jitterbug Waltz; These Foolish Things; Wave; Someone To Watch Over Me; Tuxedo Junction; Die Moritat Von Mackie Messer; Lullaby of Birdland. (Total Playing Time 55:49).
Asa Harris: Vocals; Todd Strait: Drums; Tom Kennedy: Acoustic Bass;; Rick Haydon: Guitar; Ray Kennedy, Kim Portnoy: Piano