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Laura Harrison: Now...here

C. Michael Bailey By

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Canadian cum California girl Laura Harrison is blessed with a perfect mid-range alto that is sharply defined and true. She honed her talent in music through study and then by becoming a music educator. Finally, Dr. Harrison has gotten around to recording a jazz vocal disc, Now...here, and it is a daring treat. Harrison shows little fear in her repertoire, taking a wide variety of challenges and if the Great American Songbook fails to provide adequate challenge, she composes her own.

Harrison employs two separate piano trios on Now...here, dividing the 12 tunes evenly, with the second trio—pianist John Proulx, bassist Kevin Axt and drummer Steve Barnes—performing solely Harrison's four original compositions, "Now...Here," "Mi Alma" and "Teesa's Blues." Those are the demographics.

What's special is the eutection of Harrison's carefully schooled craft regarding melody and her "no fear" attitude toward taking chances. Did you say scat singing? Harrison proves her scat bona fides with the songs book-ending her collection. "Shulie A Bop," opening the recital, was a staple of "Sassy," the divine Miss Sarah Vaughan, who with Betty Carter and Ella Fitzgerald, perfected the art founded in Louis Armstrong's "Heebie Jeebies." The closing vocalese on Duke Ellington's "Cottontail" approaches bebop in its ferocious tempo.

Harrison's original compositions are informed by her broad background. "Now...Here" celebrates the singer's full time arrival in the U.S. propelled by Steve Barnes' clever drumming and John Proulx's deliberate pianism. The singer's clever combination of her "Reflections" and Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You" complement one another very well, accented by bassist Kevin Axt's deft walking. It is proper that Laura Harrison has her say musically.

Track Listing: Shulie A Bop; Now...Here; Berimbau; Reflections/I Concentrate On You; Mi Alma; Love You Madly; Wouldn't It Be Loverly; Teesa's Blues; Habanera; Icarus; Seven Days; Cottontail.

Personnel: Laura Harrison: vocals; Peter Smith, John Proulx: piano; Chris Colangelo, Kevin Axt: bass; Jimmy Branly, Steve Barnes: drums.

Title: Now...here | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: 59 Steps Records


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