Vocalist Allan Harris has daringly chosen to record an album dedicated solely to the compositions of Billy Strayhorn. Daring because, first, lyrics to Strayhorn tunes can be difficult to successfully put across to the listener; second, because they are mainly about unrequited unfilled love and are hardly ever cheerful, and third, several lyrics on the play list are rarely heard so will be unrecognizable to everyone except the most committed Strayhorn devotees. It turns out that these are not daunting obstacles at all for Harris as this album offers an hours worth of Strayhorn done as well as one can hear. Harris' voice has a happy resemblance to that of Nat King Cole's, but with a modern bent. Happy because it means Harris is very good. He has the special way with the lyrics and with the same phrasing, timing and spacing that helped to Cole be one of the very best, ever. Some of the usual suspects on this CD include the incomparable "Lush Life" a tale of creeping dissolution done by Harris in medium tempo with some scatting both of which help to relieve some of the despair. He's back only by Ron Affif's guitar. Other familiar entries include "Just A - Sittin' and A - Rockin", "Something to Live for" and "Day Dream". On the infrequently heard side are lyrics to "My Little Brown Book". Liner notes writer Willard Jenkins quotes Harris as saying that this is the first time these lyrics have been recorded. But Al Hibbler and Gloria Lynne have recorded Strayhorn's masterpiece with words.
Harris gets strong help from his backing musicians. Eric Reed's on the mark piano and Don Braden's sax are particularly worthy of mention. Their work on "Daydream" is exceptional. It's obvious that Harris has more than mere respect for Strayhorn. Judging by the way he delivers on the material, it's outright adoration. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: Just A - Sittin' and A- Rockin; Something to Live for; My Little Brown Book; Love Came; Chelsea Bridge; Lush Life; Day Dream; Pretty Girl (The Star Crossed Lovers); Passion Flower; Oo (You Make Me Tingle); Your Love Has Faded; A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing; Lotus Blossom; Love Has Passed My By Again
Personnel: Allan Harris - Vocal; Don Braden - sax; Cecil Brooks III - Drums; Ron Affif - Guitar; Essiet Okon Essiet - Bass; Eric Reed - Piano
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
Login to your All About Jazz member account to submit articles and press releases, upload images, edit musician profiles, add events and business listings, communicate with other members via personal messages, submit inqueries or contribute any content.