272

Kit McClure Band: Kit McClure Band: The Sweethearts Project

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Kit McClure Band: Kit McClure Band: The Sweethearts Project The Kit McClure Band
The Sweethearts Project
Redhot Records
2004

The subtitle of this new album by the New York-based Kit McClure Band is "A Tribute to the International Sweethearts of Rhythm." For those of you who weren't around in the '40s, that may require a few words of explanation. At a time when women in jazz were confined largely to singing, playing piano or simply looking good on the arm of a well-heeled leader or sideman, the Sweethearts of Rhythm came roaring out of little Piney Woods, Mississippi (where they'd been weaving dreams at the town's Life School for poor children of color) and soon earned a place among the most popular big bands of the World War II era.

The Sweethearts were years ahead of their time in almost every respect—including talent. Not only was the band all-female, it was, for much of its existence, all-black as well. The odds against that happening in the '40s were mind-blowing, but the Sweethearts of Rhythm rolled the dice and won, holding their ground against the flood of well-known all-male ensembles led by Ellington, Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Lionel Hampton, Fletcher Henderson, Andy Kirk, Jimmy Mundy, Benny Carter, Erskine Hawkins, Lucky Millinder, Claude Hopkins, Earl "Fatha" Hines and their mostly white counterparts—Glenn Miller, Harry James, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet, Artie Shaw, the Dorsey brothers and so on.

When the big band era ran out of steam, so did the Sweethearts, fading slowly into the mists of time, their remarkable saga seemingly lost forever until rediscovered some years ago by feminist scholars who were bowled over by their achievements and eager to share their remarkable story with a new generation of music lovers. Among those who heard about and drew inspiration from the Sweethearts of Rhythm was Kit McClure, who decided to honor her trail-blazing predecessors by using her big band to recreate some of their music. Thus was born the Sweethearts Project, Part 1 of which is presented on this album with a second part, consisting largely of music the Sweethearts presumably would be playing if they were together today, to follow.

To ensure authenticity, original charts were carefully transcribed from recordings and in some cases updated by McClure, alto saxophonist Lisa Parrott, trombonists Deborah Weisz and Britta Langsjoen, pianist Cathy Harley and other members of McClure's band. McClure then found Carline Ray, who had sung and played guitar with the Sweethearts in the late '40s, and asked her to take part in the enterprise. Ray agreed, and is heard on two songs by Maurice King, "Jump Children" and "I Never Get Tired." King wrote five more numbers, which, like the others represented here, were performed at various times by the Sweethearts. Among the album's better-known compositions are Basie's "One O'Clock Jump," Fats Waller/Andy Razaf's "Honeysuckle Rose" and Ervin Drake/Juan Tizol's "Perdido."

Having heard the Sweethearts of Rhythm on a three-disc set, The Jubilee Sessions (Hindsight 504), I'd say McClure's band conveys admirably the radiance and enthusiasm of that phenomenal group of pioneers. The ensemble is sharp and swinging, the soloists bright and earnest. Besides McClure — sitting in for the Sweethearts' leading lady, tenor saxophonist Vi Burnside — they include Harley, Parrott, Langsjoen, trumpeters Tanya Darby and Laurie Frink, alto Tia Fuller and drummer Bernice Brooks (impressive on a rapid-fire version of "Honeysuckle Rose," as is lead trumpeter Liesl Whitaker throughout). Thumbs up for concept and performance, thumbs down for the meager 34:27 playing time. If that doesn't bother you, insert the disc, crank up the volume and enjoy a syncopated blast from the past.


Tracks: Vi Vigor; Jump Children; Just the Thing; Diggin' Dirt; Don't Get It Twisted; She's Crazy with the Heat; Slightly Frantic; I Never Get Tired; One O'Clock Jump; Honeysuckle Rose; Perdido (34:27).

Personnel: Kit McClure, leader, alto, tenor sax; Liesl Whitaker, Tanya Darby, Barbara Laronga, Laurie Frink, trumpet; Erica Von Kliest, Lisa Parrott, Tia Fuller, alto sax; Kristy Norter, tenor sax; Claire Daly, baritone sax; Jennifer Krupa, Britta Langsjoen, trombone; Cathy Harley, piano; Nikki Parrott, Kim A. Clarke, bass; LaFrae Olivia Sci, Bernice Brooks, drums; Sue Hadjopoulos, percussion. Special guest — Carline Ray (2, 8), vocals.


Track Listing: Vi Vigor; Jump Children; Just the Thing; Diggin' Dirt; Don't Get It Twisted; She's Crazy with the Heat; Slightly Frantic; I Never Get Tired; One O'Clock Jump; Honeysuckle Rose; Perdido (34:27).

Personnel: Kit McClure, leader, alto, tenor sax; Liesl Whitaker, Tanya Darby, Barbara Laronga, Laurie Frink, trumpet; Erica Von Kliest, Lisa Parrott, Tia Fuller, alto sax; Kristy Norter, tenor sax; Claire Daly, baritone sax; Jennifer Krupa, Britta Langsjoen, trombone; Cathy Harley, piano; Nikki Parrott, Kim A. Clarke, bass; LaFrae Olivia Sci, Bernice Brooks, drums; Sue Hadjopoulos, percussion. Special guest -- Carline Ray (2, 8), vocals.

Title: Kit McClure Band: The Sweethearts Project | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Redhot Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read Grateful Dead: Cornell '77 Extended Analysis Grateful Dead: Cornell '77
by Doug Collette
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome" Extended Analysis The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "King Crimson: On (and Off) The Road" Extended Analysis King Crimson: On (and Off) The Road
by John Kelman
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Grateful Dead: Dave's Pick's Vol. 19: Honolulu, Hawaii, 1/23/70" Extended Analysis Grateful Dead: Dave's Pick's Vol. 19: Honolulu,...
by Doug Collette
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Jack Tempchin: One More Song" Extended Analysis Jack Tempchin: One More Song
by Doug Collette
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition" Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Marcus King: The Marcus King Band" Extended Analysis Marcus King: The Marcus King Band
by Doug Collette
Published: October 8, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!