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Tony Bennett considers Allan Harris to be his favorite vocalist. That is almost as profound as Frank Sinatra considering Tony Bennett his favorite vocalist. Mr. Bennett heaps no faint praise on Mr. Harris. Allan Harris is a very accomplished vocalist devoid of all of the barking and groaning afflicting many young singers in jazz today. I would liken Mr. Harris is a higher-range Johnny Hartman. He is very much in the hip crooner category. And for this release, Harris has chosen a perfect vehicle for himself: the Strayhorn songbook.
Harris has shined a beacon on Strayhorn through a bit of scholarship. He has uncovered some previously known Strayhorn pieces and has supplied lyrics to some familiar Strayhorn instrumentals. "Sittin' and A Rockin'" rocks, "Passion Flower" wails, "A Flower is a Lovesome Things" aches with a Latin beat. Eric Reed, the much sought after pianist, provides his support with a state of grace and personality. Don Braden's saxophone, particularly on "Day Dream." This is a most entertaining disc.
Track Listing: Just A-Sittin' And A-Rockin; Something To Live For; My Little Brown Book; Love Came; Chelsea Bridge; Lushlife; Daydream; Pretty Girl; Passion Flower; Oo (You Make Me Tingle); Your Love Has Faded; A Flower Is A Lovesomething; Lotus Blossom; Love Has Passed Me By Again. (Total Time: 57.13).
Personnel: Allan Harris: Vocals; Eric Reed: Piano; Don Braden: Saxophone; Cecil Brooks: Drums; Essiet Okon Essiet: Bass; Ron Affifl Guitar.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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