- Released: May 7, 1996
- Label: Verve
Down Beat - 9/96, p.534.5 Stars
- Very Good/Excellent - "...a fine sense of period, and not a pinch of camp. In the final analysis, that's what gives this soundtrack its integrity as a freestanding jazz work--some of the best contemporary players giving the best they've got to another generation, and no condescension in sight..."
JazzTimes - 10/96, p.116
"...Kansas City's all-stars play with passion, bluesy brio and historical awareness..."
- 1.Blues In The Dark
- 2.Moten Swing
- 3.I Surrender Dear
- 4.Queer Notions
- 5.Lullaby Of The Leaves
- 6.I Left My Baby
- 7.Yeah, Man
- 8.Froggy Bottom
- 10.Pagin' The Devil
- 12.Solitude (Reprise)
Personnel: Butch Morris (conductor); Craig Handy (arranger, tenor saxophone); Don Byron (arranger, baritone saxophone, clarinet); Geri Allen (arranger, piano); Steven Bernstein (arranger); Kevin Mahogany (vocals); David "Fathead" Newman, Jesse Davis (alto saxophone); James Carter (tenor & baritone saxophones); Joshua Redman, David Murray (tenor saxophone); Nicholas Payton, James Zollar (trumpet); Olu Dara (cornet); Clark Gayton, Curtis Fowlkes (trombone); Cyrus Chestnut (piano); Mark Whitfield, Russell Malone (guitar); Ron Carter, Christian McBride, Tyrone Clark (bass); Victor Lewis (drums).
Recorded at the Hey Hey Club on May 11-22, 1995. Includes liner notes by Robert Altman, Bob Blumenthal and Eric Liljestrand.
The soundtrack to Robert Altman's "Kansas City" will take you back to the heyday of swing, Kansas City style. It features a big band of today's lions glorifying jazz's golden age, dressed in the trappings of their predecessors. Yet there's no mistaking their true faces underneath their half-century-old hats.
It kicks off with the creeping and gritty "Blues In The Dark," a Count Basie standard featuring the unmistakable cry and response of tenormen James Carter and Joshua Redman, whose performances are soulful, rousing and plaintive. The big band glides through Bennie Moten's "Moten Swing," one of the swing era's definitive tunes, and struts on Count Basie's "Lafayette." Smooth as a K.C. gangster. Kevin Mahogany takes the mic for "I Left My Baby," an old-fashioned juke-joint romp, complete with an enthusiastic crowd (sounding like it's surrounding you) egging on each musician. On Coleman Hawkins' "Queer Notions" you can hear David Murray walking in Bean's shoes. In fact, the very spirits of Bennie Moten's and Count Basie's orchestras are quite present throughout this foray into the swinging golden age of Kansas City jazz.
Personnel: Kevin Mahogany (vocals); Mark Whitfield, Russell Malone (guitar); Don Byron (clarinet, baritone saxophone); David "Fathead" Newman , Jesse Davis (alto saxophone); Craig Handy, David Murray, James Carter , Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone); James Zollar, Nicholas Payton (trumpet); Olu Dara (cornet); Curtis Fowlkes, Clark Gayton (trombone); Geri Allen (piano); Victor Lewis (drums).
Audio Mixer: Eric Liljestrand.
Liner Note Authors: Eric Liljestrand; Robert Altman; Bob Blumenthal.
Recording information: The Hey Hey Club (05/11/1995-05/22/1995).
Arrangers: Craig Handy; Don Byron; Geri Allen; Steven Bernstein .
For Robert Altman's Kansas City film, since the story was centered in 1934 Kansas City, Altman wanted to have younger musicians depict top jazz artists of the era playing at one of the legendary jam sessions. He recruited many of today's top modernists and, although they used arrangements based on older recordings, they did not have to necessarily improvise in the style of the time. Actually, it is surprising how close the musicians often come, recapturing not just the music of the period but the adventurous spirit of such immortals as Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Lester Young. A dozen songs from the film are on this very enjoyable and unique CD, which features such players as trumpeter Nicholas Payton, clarinetist Don Byron, guitarists Russell Malone and Mark Whitfield, pianists Geri Allen and Cyrus Chestnut, altoists Jesse Davis and David "Fathead" Newman, and four of today's great tenors: James Carter, Craig Handy, David Murray, and Joshua Redman. In addition, Kevin Mahogany sings "I Left My Baby." Although there are some audience shouts on a couple of the pieces, this is one soundtrack album that very much stands up on its own. ~ Scott Yanow