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Kit McClure Band: The Sweethearts Project

Elliott Simon By

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An historically accurate portrayal, The Sweethearts Project is a tribute to the all-woman big band known as the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, which kept the home front swinging during WWII. Using seventeen of her peers and former Sweethearts vocalist Carline Ray, bandleader and tenor saxophonist Kit McClure has produced a modern showcase for the finest contemporary female jazz musicians to strut their prodigious chops while highlighting an important but neglected part of jazz history.

"Vi Vigor" kicks things off with a pumping rhythm provided by bassist Nicki Parrott and drummer Bernice Brooks as McClure reaches back with a hot solo to touch the great Sweethearts tenor player Vi Burnside. Carline Ray jumps the blues with the classic double entendres of "Jump Children" and then drops all pretenses with an enticing vocal as she proclaims "I Never Get Tired" of doing it. Basie's "One O'Clock Jump" is used as a forum for trumpeters Tanya Darby and Barbara Laronga to do battle while sharply swinging solo volleys are also contributed by McClure, Britta Langsjoen on muted trombone, altoist Lisa Parrott and pianist Cathy Harley. Harley further excels as she instrumentally leads the band through the interesting swing changes of "Just the Thing," follows a sweet Darby trumpet solo with a delightful touch of dissonance on "Don't Get it Twisted," and sets up the Latin groove of "Perdido" while expanding the melody with altoist Tia Fuller. McClure shows herself to have a nice command of the line with decidedly modern solos on "She's Crazy With the Heat" and the ever so "Slightly Frantic."

With swinging brass section arrangements, precisely transcribed charts, hot solos and an overall up-tempo feel, McClure has succeeded in capturing and recreating an important contribution to the annals of jazz by showcasing an impressive array of present-day musicianship.

Track Listing: 1. Vi Vigor 2. Jump Children 3. Just the Thing 4. Diggin' Dirt 5. Don't Get It Twisted 6. She's Crazy with the Heat 7. Slightly Frantic 8. I Never Get Tired 9. One O'Clock Jump 10. Honeysuckle Rose 11. Perdido

Personnel: Kit McClure: alto, tenor sax; Liesl Whitaker, Tanya Darby, Barbara Laronga, Laurie Frink: trumpet; Erica Von Kliest, Lisa Parrott, Tia Fuller: alto sax; Kristy Norter: tenor sax; Claire Daly: baritone sax; Jennifer Krupa, Britta Langsjoen: trombone; Cathy Harley: piano; Nicki Parrott (1,2,4,5,7), Kim A. Clarke: bass; LaFrae Olivia Sci (3, 6), Bernice Brooks: drums; Sue Hadjopoulos: percussion. Special guest Carline Ray (2, 8): vocals.

Title: The Sweethearts Project | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Redhot Records

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