Philadelphia has been a rich treasure chest of jazz talent. Jimmy Smith, Bobby Timmons, Ray Bryant, Joey DeFrancesco, Kenny Barron, the Eubanks Brothers, the Heath Brothers, and a host of others. Peaking out of this talent is Toni Harris, Ms. Jazz. On the scene since the early 1990's, Ms. Harris is coming into her own on her new release, Second Chances.
Her vocals are a mixture of Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, and Betty Carter. Her vocal stylings err on the side of Latinesque (hear "Dimples" and "Over The Rainbow"), particularly with Bill Easley's flute laying down a bit o' Bossa. She can sing a rave up also as witness on her scat of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce. "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me" is all soul, from her punchy vocals to Michael Abene's jaunty arrangement. "Take the Train" is, of course, the vocal rendition of Strayhorn's anthem, deliver with the same creative force as "Do Nothing...." Both are sophisticated blues.
In all, Toni Harris has bountiful talent and Second Chances is a worthy listen for jazz vocal aficionados. Ms. Harris makes this music swing and is a worthy credit to the great jazz town she hails from.
Track Listing: Dimples; When Sunny Gets Blue; Billy's Bounce; Save Your Love For Me; Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me; Over The Rainbow; I Hope That I Can Love Again; Take The Train. (Total Time: 37.19).
Personnel: Toni Harris: Vocals; Michael Abene: Piano; Lisle Atkinson: Bass; Richard Allen: Drums; Bill Easley: Saxophone and Flute.
Year Released: 2002
| Record Label: Jazznote Productions
| Style: Vocal
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.