Black Bar Jukebox, due for release on January 20, 2015, is the latest album from award-winning jazz vocalist Allan Harris. In an age when the supply of male jazz singers is sparse, his earlier albums (like his 2012 duo set with pianist Takana Miyamoto, Convergence and Love Came, his journey through the songs of Billy Strayhorn, as well as his tributes to the great Nat ‘King’ Cole) have generated justified comparison to the giants of jazz vocalists. A new album from a man who has been compared to Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra is bound to have jazz lovers’ mouths watering.
Not to worry—Black Bar Jukebox delivers the goods. Opting for a 13-song set that combines original material, standards, and a modern pop classic or two, Harris is equally at home with a variety of styles. As he says in a promotional video for the album, he wanted his new CD to show that you can listen to any song that has a groove and gets down musically, whether it be, James Brown, Count Basie, or Elton John.
So it’s no surprise that a tune like the Eddie Jefferson “I Got the Blues” channels the Basie vibe, while the Elton John hit “Take Me to the Pilot” takes a soulful turn. Kenny Rankin’s “Catfish” takes him to a Latin groove, while his arrangement of “My Funny Valentine” adds a rich Hammond B-3 organ backing to the brandy of his baritone. His take on John Mayer’s “Daughters,” on the other hand, stays fairly close to the original, but as he says in the liner notes, “I put a little more jukin’ soul on it.” He also plays acoustic guitar on the track.
The original compositions include a Latin-flavored “Miami,” “A Little Bit Scared,” a mild swinger that nostalgically evokes another age, and “Can It Be This Is a Dream,” an off kilter dream-like ballad.
Harris is joined on the set by Pascal Le Boeuf, who handles piano and organs, Leon Boykins on bass, Jake Goldbas on drums, Yotam Silberstein on guitar, and Samuel Torres on percussion.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00R3KG2GG]