186

Marilyn Harris with the LA Jazz All-Stars Big Band: Round Trip

By

Sign in to view read count
Marilyn Harris with the LA Jazz All-Stars Big Band: Round Trip Marilyn Harris is that rare musical commodity who can write funny and clever songs in the tradition of Dave Frishberg, Bob Dorough (who appears on this album) and Mose Allison, among others. She also writes "serious" songs that tell a story (eg. "That Afternoon in Harlem," which specifically relates to a jazz environment, or "Letting Go," which does not). Round Trip is the third release from the West Coast jazz singer/songwriter; her 2004 album Future Street was one of the best vocal releases of the year.

For this occasion, Harris delivers a variety of material, all played splendidly by the top-flight LA Jazz All-Stars Big Band, which includes such jazz players as Pete Christlieb, Bill Watrous, Dan Higgins, Don Helton, Waren Luening and Andy Martin. With the exception of two songs, Harris provides all new originals, either written by herself or co-written with musical collaborator Mark Winkler. Winkler recorded a few good albums during the mid 1980s in a Kenny Rankin-type setting. The striking arrangements by Mark Wolfram sometimes reminded me of the riffs of the Supersax organization from several decades ago.

Harris displays her jazz chops on "Bebop High," an up-tempo tribute to the bebop era, and "The Wisdom of Sam Kinison," which is about as unusual a subject as one could imagine in a jazz tune. (The late comedian's advice to all is to "follow the food.") Harris' wit is in fine form on "They're Gonna Love Me," a tart series of comments on how the death of a jazzman will ensure his legacy. The liner notes suggest that this song is crying out for a Mose Allison version, and I couldn't have worded it any better.

Guest Bob Dorough (who wrote the very hip liner notes for the 2004 album) steps on board for a duet on "Cool," and Mark Winkler provides the male vocal on his duet for "Way Out Here In The Country." Harris gives a bravura performance of the Jerry Herman show tune "If He Walked Into My Life" (from Mame), which was a big hit for Eydie Gorme, and she also provides the vocal for the Marian McPartland/Johnny Mercer piece "Twilight World."

The performances by these musicians indeed deserve mention, among them several tenor sax solos from Pete Christlieb. In addition, similar work from Bill Watrous, Andy Martin, Dan Higgins, Jim Fox and Don Shelton are also highlights. The final question remains as to whether or not Round Trip measures up to Future Street. The entire 2004 effort was virtually a home run, while on the new work, there are a flurry of extra-base hits on many of the tracks. This should remain a minor distinction to both fans and first-time Marilyn Harris listeners in the measurement of this successful work.


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


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read The Romeo and Juliet Project CD/LP/Track Review The Romeo and Juliet Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Crystal Machine CD/LP/Track Review Crystal Machine
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "The Behemoth" CD/LP/Track Review The Behemoth
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "Resolution" CD/LP/Track Review Resolution
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian Microjam!" CD/LP/Track Review Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian Microjam!
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "And the Rhythm Serenaders" CD/LP/Track Review And the Rhythm Serenaders
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 22, 2016
Read "Negative Spaces" CD/LP/Track Review Negative Spaces
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 8, 2016
Read "Graveyard Whistling" CD/LP/Track Review Graveyard Whistling
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.