Various Artists Voices of Concord Jazz

Track List
#Track Name
1I Changed the Rules
3Ain't Misbehavin'
5Little Boat
7A Day In The Life Of a Fool
9Deedle's Blues
10Stay Away From Bill
11Meet me, Midnight
12Swingin' Down At 10th and Main
13He Could a Man Take Such a Fall
14Better than Anything
15The Lady Sings the Blues
16Out of this World
17You'll Have to Swing It
18Home Blues
19How High the Moon
20How High the Moon (encore)

Jan 1, 2004

The clean, tasteful, accessible, and swinging sound of Concord Records is well showcased on Voices of Concord Jazz, a collection of 20 live performances (both small group and big band) by seven of the California-based label's jazz singers. In truth, there's nothing earth-shattering to be found in these 105 minutes--no Sarahs, Billies, Mels, or Ellas are on hand (although Patti Austin certainly evokes Miss Fitzgerald in a set that includes "Mr. Paganini" and a tour de force "How High the Moon"). But while the Concord approach has usually been more about entertaining and engaging listeners than challenging them, this is decidedly not the pallid style commonly known as "smooth jazz"; indeed, the occasional Vegas-isms of singers like Peter Cincotti (virtually a younger Harry Connick Jr.) and Curtis Stigers are more than balanced by their instrumental prowess on piano and sax, respectively. Elsewhere, Karrin Allyson shines in a too-brief set that includes the Bobby Timmons standard "Moanin'" (with lyrics by Jon Hendricks), while the bluesy, sultry "Stay Away from Bill," her duet with Diane Schuur (an extraordinarily powerful vocalist with an unfortunate tendency to shriek), is a highlight. Others include Nenna Freelon and Monica Mancini (daughter of Henry); all are backed by some superb players, including a mostly German big band conducted by the estimable Tom Scott. --Sam Graham