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Marilyn Harris: Round Trip

Jim Santella By

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With her heart stuck on jazz for keeps, Marilyn Harris sings this program of originals, plus two chestnuts, with the authenticity of a life-long veteran. She knows. Big band arrangements by Mark Wolfram give the session such a flair that its memory lingers on long after the disc has completed its spin. Wolfram fashions the big band's brass, woodwind and rhythm sections together with transparent filaments, while Harris contributes thrilling lyrics. She's a clever songwriter who feels as comfortable with vocalese as sensual ballads.

Bob Dorough guests on "Cool, a witty song about owning a hip image, done up with an elegant band serenade. "That Afternoon in Harlem stands out as the album's most beautiful piece, lounging mellifluously with tender mercies. "The Cards Keep Comin', a swinging blues, features a relaxed attitude, while "Bebop High offers a vital lesson in up-tempo vocalese.

"They're Gonna Love Me features lyrics about jazz's worldwide acceptance, and how the irony of it all sometimes means that due respect for one's contributions come only after death. The session features creative soloing from band members that stirs the pot continuously. The players who lend superb musical commentary include tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb, guitarist Jim Fox, trombonist Andy Martin, alto saxophonist Don Shelton, trumpeter Warren Luening and trombonist Bill Watrous.

Round Trip stands out as the logical candidate for album cover of the year, featuring the image of a road map that includes musical clues throughout the land, with city names such as Heftiville, Brubeck Corners, Maynardsville and Nestico Village, as well as Moon River, Cannonball Creek, Don Ellis Museum of Musical Oddities and Basie International Airport.

Round Trip appeals to a broad audience and comes highly recommended. The music comes from deep-rooted soul, picks up on a century of tradition, and broadens its scope to include hints of Disney popularity and many happy returns.

Track Listing: Round Trip; The Cards Keep Comin

Personnel: Marilyn Harris: vocals, piano; Mark Wolfram: arranger, producer, vocal (6); Wayne Bergeron, Larry Lunetta, Warren Luening, Rick Baptist: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dan Higgins: alto sax, flute; Don Shelton: alto sax, flute, clarinet; Bill Liston: tenor sax; Pete Christlieb: tenor sax, alto flute; John Yoakum: tenor sax, piccolo, alto flute; Greg Huckins: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Andy Martin, Bruce Otto, Charlie Loper: trombone; Charlie Morillas: bass trombone; Jim Fox: guitar; Chuck Berghofer: bass; Ralph Humphrey, Peter Erskine: drums. Special guests: Bob Dorough: vocal (8); Bill Watrous: trombone (11).

Title: Round Trip | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Wrightwood Records

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