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Luqman Hamza: When A Smile Overtakes A Frown

Jim Santella By

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Kansas City singer Luqman Hamza hasn’t gotten much recognition around the world. Not yet. Accurate, articulate, pleasant-sounding, and a natural phraser, he communicates with his audience. Also a fine pianist, Hamza takes the piano chair on four tracks. The straight-ahead jazz session includes solos and fours from guitar, sax, piano & drums in support of the singer’s performance. Born in Kansas City as Larry Cummings, Hamza sat in with Charlie Parker when he was 19. Two years later, he performed with Miles Davis. Since then Luqman Hamza has been active on the local scenes of Chicago and Kansas City.

The leader’s title track - a moderately fast, bouncy, happy tune – sets the mood for the album. A smile takes fewer muscles, less effort, and communicates a positive message to those around you. "Do I Hear a Waltz?" – from the mid-1960s Richard Rodgers & Stephen Sondheim musical of the same name – provides an uplifting feeling. Show tunes have provided good material for jazz artists considerably over the years. Slowing it down for seamless ballads such as "When You Surrender," "Estate" and "The Summer Knows," Hamza winds his way through dramatic and emotional scenes that underscore the powerfully communicative nature of his performance. A song by Jon Hendricks and Al Jarreau, "That Awkward Age," reinforces the album’s family-style message. Directed to a young person who’s "in a stage that’s known as the awkward age: too little for big, too big for little," the song delivers another positive message for everyone. "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" swings with a pleasant air. Everybody appreciates an optimist, so good music seems to be turning the rosy outlook right back where it came from; toward a deserving jazz singer whose time has come.


Track Listing: Can

Personnel: Luqman Hamza- vocal, piano; Willie Akins- tenor saxophone; Will Matthews- guitar; Simon Rowe- piano; Willem von Hombracht- bass; Montez Coleman- drums.

Title: When A Smile Overtakes A Frown | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Catalyst Productions

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