Legends & Lions
REVIEW By Willard Manus

The record company Mack Avenue has dipped into its archives in putting together two jazz anthologies, both of which are linked under the LEGENDS & LIONS tagline.

SWINGIN' mixes the work of such veteran musicians as Jeff Hamilton, Kenny Burrell, Teddy Edwards and Bud Shank with that of such young Turks as Sean Jones, Eugene Maslov and Ron Blake. The result is varied, fresh-sounding music which should appeal to most jazz fans.

Two vocalists--one elderly, the other young--are heard on the ten-track, budget-priced CD. LA's own Ernie Andrews may be in his seventies, but he sounds strong and vibrant on Old Man Jazz, a tribute to the likes of Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Benny Goodman and Cootie Williams. Andrews' gifted sidemen include Oscar Brasher (trumpet), Louis Taylor (alto & tenor) and Al McKibbon (bass).

Newcomer Ilona Knopfler is the singer on Comment Allez-Vous, heard previously on Mack's "Live the Life" CD. Knopfler has a light, lilting sound and is given first-rate support by four brass and three reed players, plus a strong rhythm section and a soloing clarinetist, Paquito D'Rivera.

There is one previously unreleased number on the CD, I'm Old Fashioned. Written by Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer, it's given a spirited interpretation by a band headed by Bud Shank (alto), Mike Wofford (piano), Bob Magnusson (bass) and Joe LaBarbera (drums). Even more compelling is the one big-band offering, Nancy Jo, by the Gerald Wilson orchestra.

SWOONIN' offers a more moody, romantic take on jazz standards, led not only by three vocalists (Ilona again, plus Barbara Morrison and Shirley Horn), but by such headliners as Clark Terry, George Shearing and James Moody.

Terry's interpretation of Hoagy Carmichael's The Nearness of You--another previously unreleased cut--is worth the price of admission. Recorded in 2002, when he was 82, Terry shows he's still a trumpet master, playing in his casual yet ebullient style, leading pals Kenny Barron (piano), Bob Cranshaw (bass) and Stix Hooper (drums) down a glory road of interpreation.

Morrison weighs in with a salty rendition of Evil Gal Blues, followed by sax man Moody's tender investigation of Sweet Lorraine. There isn't a weak number on the album; among its unexpected joys are a Latin-flavored ballad, Twenty Year Love Affair, with a masterful violinist (Charlie Bisharat) leading the way.
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