Allan Harris and I go back a ways — 30 years, maybe more. I first heard him in an upstairs lounge on Greene Street (I've never forgotten the joint's comfy chairs), and Allan has come in for interviews and performances on Singers Unlimited ever since. Last year, he brought a band to play songs from Cross That River, his musical about black cowboys on the cattle drives of the American west after the Civil War.
Allan's new album, The Genius of Eddie Jefferson, celebrates the godfather of vocalese — the art of setting lyrics to classic jazz records and solos. Allan recorded Jefferson's most famous vocalese, "Moody’s Mood for Love," on his 2016 album Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better. This one includes "Jeannine," "So What" (E.J.'s tribute to Miles Davis), "Body and Soul" (E.J.'s tribute to Coleman Hawkins), and Jefferson's love song to jazz, "Waltz for a Rainy Be-Bop Evening."
The Genius of Eddie Jefferson is the current offering of WBGO's CD of the Month Club. Listeners can hear the entire album from the April 20 to 26 on wbgo.org/radar — just before the album's release date on the 27th. Allan will sing a CD release gig at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club that weekend. In the meantime, he returns to Singers Unlimited this Sunday to sing the songs of Eddie Jefferson — and an impromptu tribute to yours truly on "Saint Louis Blues."