The days when recordings were routinely issued covering a current Broadway hit musical are long past. Fortunately no one told that to Arbors Records. With Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific enjoying a smash revival, here comes the Harry Allen/Joe Cohn Quartet and vocalists Rebecca Kilgore and Eddie Erickson with innovative, knockout performances of one of the greatest of all Broadway scores.
With a voice filled with smiles for miles, Kilgore proves to be pinpoint perfect, delightfully inhabiting "A Cockeyed Optimist" and "Wash That Man Right Out My Hair," as if prepared at any moment actually to perform those famously upbeat songs on stage. On "Younger Than Springtime," Erickson's approach is novel. His is a warm, smoothly swinging, low-key rendering of a song usually performed at near operatic level. A novel consideration of "Bloody Mary" gets things distinctly jumping on one of the set's three straight instrumentals. Allen steps front and center and delivers 16 bars of Ben Webster-like beauty, reaffirming yet again what a supreme master he is. When joined by Cohn, they are soon batting eights and fours out of the park.
There's more of that romantic Webster-esque blowing from Allen as he backs up the singers on "Some Enchanted Evening." "Twin Soliloquies" would hardly seem to be fertile stuff for jazz, yet Kilgore and Erickson imbue it with a gently swinging flow that is enriched by Allen. 60 years on, this gang succeeds in revealing anew totally engaging and fresh possibilities in South Pacific.
Track Listing: A Cock-eyed Optimist; Younger Than Springtime; Bloody Mary; Twin Soliloquies; I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair; There Is Nothin' Like A Dame; Dites-Moi; A Wonderful Guy; Honey Bun; Some Enchanted Evening; You've Got To Be Carefully Taught; My Girl Back Home; This Nearly Was Mine; Bali Ha'i.
Personnel: Harry Allen: tenor saxophone; Joe Cohn: guitar; Joel Forbes: bass; Chuck Riggs: drums; Rebecca Kilgore: vocals; Eddie Erickson: vocals.
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