The Genius of Eddie Jefferson is the new album from singer Allan Harris. It’s something of a musical sidestep for the crooner. After years of singing in a Nat-like creamy baritone, he’s at his jazziest as he celebrates the godfather of vocalese — the art of creating songs with lyrics to classic jazz records and solos.
Allan recorded Jefferson’s most famous vocalese, “Moody’s Mood for Love,” on his last album, Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better. And now, with a swinging band, he’s revisiting Jefferson’s tributes to Miles Davis (“So What”), Charlie Parker (“Billy’s Bounce”), and Coleman Hawkins (“Body and Soul”).
“Lester’s Trip to the Moon” is Jefferson’s twisting of a Lester Young variation on “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” “Jeanine” is an album highlight as Allan sings in a breezier tempo than the Duke Pearson original — and with much more of the romantic cool that Allan is best known for.
“Waltz for a Rainy Bebop Evening” is a love song to the music that Jefferson recorded with saxophonist Richie Cole. “Alto Madness” himself is Allan’s guest on that song, and he solos also on two vocalese from classics of Horace Silver (“Sister Sadie” and “Filthy McNasty”), plus “Dexter Digs In,” lyrics that Jefferson wrote and recorded with Dexter Gordon himself.
The Genius of Eddie Jefferson is the April offering of WBGO’s CD of the Month Club, and you can hear the entire album from the 20th to the 26th on wbgo.org/radar — just before the album’s release date on the 27th. Allan is singing a CD release gig at Smoke the weekend of the 27th/28th/29th, and, in the meantime, you can hear (and see) when Allan returned to Singers Unlimited, singing live in the studio songs of Eddie Jefferson, plus an impromptu blues for Michael Bourne.
1) So What
2) Sister Sadie
3) Dexter Digs In
4) Billy's Bounce
5) Body and Soul
7) Filthy McNasty
8) Lester's Trip To The Moon
10) Waltz For A Rainy Bebop Evening