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Future Street is an outstanding new vocal package from West Coast jazz singer/songwriter Marilyn Harris. First, a brief word about the music. The most adventurous jazz singers will take a jazz standard from the past (e.g. a Wayne Shorter Blue Note classic, a Coleman Hawkins composition from the 1940s, etc.) and set original lyrics to the tune and perhaps instrumental solo. Here, with the exception of Kurt Weill's "Lost in the Stars," Marilyn Harris is working without a net on her own compositions, which happen to sound like they belong to the category of very familiar, and sturdy jazz riffs that sound like they've been in place for some time. Her advantage is that the listener has no preconceived notion as to what the lyrical content ought to be.
The album begins with "Dorothy Parker, based upon a poem written by the title character, told in swinging fashion, and it ends with a ballad highlight "Love Means Never Having to Say Goodbye." The intervening ten tracks offer a lot of laughs, insight and toe tapping. The title tune is treated to a little big band ambiance, with the horn riffs providing a lift. "Sunglasses In The Rain" is a duet with Mark Winkler that has a bouncy AOR-type delivery that is thematically like Donald Fagen's "Walk Between the Raindrops." Harry Connick Jr. could make this a Top 40 hit. A lilting bossa "My Dissipation" is given a tongue-in-cheek set of lyrics that belie the typical Rio lifestyle. "Express" is delivered on a very fast track, with help from vocalist and arranger Mark Wolfram and done a la Lambert Hendricks & Ross.
A large measure of the success of this project is the musicianship of the players gathered for this session. There are soloists featured on every track and solid ensemble work. Andy Martin's trombone, Bill Liston's baritone sax, the flugelhorn of Luening/Bargeron and Dan Higgins sax and flute are just some of the standouts. In his hip liner notes, Bob Dorough says it all without giving the listener any technical information on the tunes, and it is just perfect.
Track Listing: Dorothy Parker, Ain't Got Nothin' On You, Future Street, Sunglasses in the Rain, My Dissipation, In A Lonely Place, Express, Insomniac, Lost in the Stars, Don't Wanna Know, The Good Guys, Love Means Never Having to Say Goodbye.
Personnel: Aggregate Personnel:
Marilyn Harris,vocals and piano; Dave Carpenter,bass; Bob Leatherbarrow, drums, vibraphone; Dan Higgins, Pete Christlieb, Bill Liston, reeds; Warren Luening, Wayne Bargeron,flugelhorn; Andy Martin,trombone; Mark Winkler,vocals(Sunglasses in the Rain); Mark Wolfram,vocals(Express).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.