Monday, May 11, 2015

Saxophonist Harry Allen salutes the genius of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington on For George, Cole and Duke

For today's most creative jazz musicians, the work of composers George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington remains an inexhaustible wellspring of inspiration. On For George, Cole and Duke Harry Allen, a mainstream master of the tenor saxophone, salutes choice songs that have become mainstays of the jazz tradition. Along with his bandmates - the pianist Ehud Asherie, the bassist and vocalist Nicki Parrott and the drummer and vibraphonist Chuck Redd, as well as special guest percussionist "Little Johnny" Rivero - Allen unearths new riches from such cherished compositions as "Love for Sale," " How Long Has This Been Going On?" and "Mood Indigo." The result is a classic showpiece of mainstream swing that honors the composers while simultaneously highlighting the interpretive and improvisational skills of the performers. For George, Cole and Duke, out April 7, 2015, is the debut release of Blue Heron Records.

Allen, long a paragon of mainstream saxophone styling, is at the top of his form here, employing his creamy tone, endless creative ideas and rhythmic assurance on swinging performances and thoughtful ballads alike. With his talent for spontaneous arrangement, Allen was able to fashion the work of Gershwin, Porter and Ellington within imaginative settings that provided him and his bandmates with plenty of room for personal expression. Ehud Asherie, a style-shifting talent who has thoroughly absorbed pre-swing, swing and bop piano idioms, exhibits his ease as a fluid soloist and astute accompanist. Chuck Redd, the celebrated drummer and vibraphonist, contributes masterly performances on both instruments, penned the hip Afro-Cuban arrangement of Porter's "Love for Sale" and added his savvy as a producer. The bassist and singer Nicki Parrott, contributes rock solid bass performances and croons sweet vocals on "In a Mellow Tone," "How Long Has This Been Going On?" and "Mood Indigo," once again proves herself a mainstream jazz marvel.

"The recording session was a delight," says Blue Heron President and CD Executive Producer Michael Francis.  "The chemistry between musicians, producers and engineer was beyond exceptional.  The artists shared leadership responsibilities and collaborated equally, each contributing arrangements and ideas. A sense of high creative energy filled the air and the group took care of business - most tracks being keepers on the first take."

Francis, a passionate aficionado of Latin jazz, called in special guest "Little Johnny" Rivero, conguero with Eddie Palmieri's orchestra, to add some exciting Latin percussion on "Love for Sale," "Mood Indigo" and the delightful, if little heard, "Purple Gazelle," originally recorded on the 1963 Ellington album, Afro-Bossa.  Though Rivero had never met any of the other band members, he fit into the mix perfectly.  Little surprise, since the combination of exceptional musicians and timeless songs, could only bring out the best in any gifted player.

For George, Cole and Duke is the debut recording from Blue Heron Records LLC, headquartered in Hondo, New Mexico. Upholding the company mantra of "Artistic Integrity First," Blue Heron plans a catalogue devoted to high quality mainstream jazz, blues and Latin music.


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