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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


A Great Night in Harlem

Playboy Jazz PBD2-7502-2
2CD set


This is a record every jazz fan should buy, not only does it contain some great jazz, but all the profits from the sale of this 2CD set benefit the Jazz Foundation of America’s Jazz Musicians’ Emergency Fund.

In the USA jazz musicians don’t get medical insurance, nor do they receive pensions. If they’re not able to work, because they are ill or have gone out of fashion, they can easily become homeless. The Emergency Fund is there to help in such situations.

Please do something to help the musicians you have enjoyed over the years by buying this disc, you will also find it a rewarding listening experience.


    1. No greater Love
    2. If I Had you
    3. Devil’s In My den
    4. Don’t Explain
    5. Roy Haynes Solo
    6. Fanfare for Four Trumpets


    1. Sunset & The Mocking Bird
    2. Death Letter
    3. Con Alma
    4. We Have a Friend in Jesus
    5. Every Day I Have the Blues
    6. Wee


    1. Randy Brecker-trumpet, Paquito D’Rivera-clarinet, JoAnne Brackeen-piano, Ron Carter-Bass, Ray Barretto-Congas, Jimmy Cobb-drums.
    2. Nnenna Freelon-vocal, Kenny Baron-piano, Ron Carter bass, Ben Riley-drums, Jon Faddis-trumpet.
    3. Ahmad Jamal-piano, James Commack-bass, Idris Muhammad-drums, George Coleman-tenor
    4. Kenny Baron-piano, Regina Carter-violin
    5. Roy Haynes-drums
    6. Jimmy Owens, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Eddie Allen-trumpet


    1. Tommy Flanagan-piano, Peter Washington-bass, Al Heath-drums
    2. Cassandra Wilson-vocals, Mark Peterson-bass, Jeff Hayes-percussion, Marvin Sewell-guitar
    3. Ray Bryant-piano
    4. Russell Malone-guitar, Jimmy Owens-trumpet
    5. Melba Joyce-vocals, Frank Wess-tenor, Lou Donaldson—alto, Hilton Ruiz-piano, Ron Carter-bass, Ben Riley-drums.
    6. Clark Terry-flugel, Phil Woods –alto, Don Braden-tenor. Howard Johnson-tuba, Melvin Sparks-guitar, Chris Anderson-piano, Jamil Nasser-bass, Louis Hayes-drums.

The musicians who appeared at this historic concert, staged at the world famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York, on September 24th 2001, were all volunteers. The fact that many had travelled long distances to take part shows their commitment to this very worthy cause. If your aim in life were to make money, you would not embark on a career as a jazz musician. It is a very highly competitive world where you need to be exceptional just to scrape a bare living, very few enjoy riches, no matter how great their talent. People become jazz musicians because they love the music that they play and are dedicated to it. Obviously there are many casualties and the Jazz Foundation is now there to help them.

Track No1 has Randy Brecker and Paquo D’Rivera playing a great jazz standard, No Greater Love. The result is, as you would expect from men of this calibre, sparkling improvisations delivered with great style. Paquo is a superb clarinet stylist, something akin to Buddy DeFranco and much to my liking.

The masterful Kenny Baron takes over the piano stool for If I Had You which has Nneenna Freelon singing and some high note trumpet playing from another master Jon Faddis on trumpet.

Devil’s In My Den not only has the superb Ahmad Jamal on piano, but the exceptional talents of George Coleman on tenor sax. Don’t Explain has Kenny Baron back at the keyboard, this time with jazz violin virtuoso Regina Carter. The short Fanfare track was arranged and composed by legendary Basie arranger and tenor player Frank Foster.

Disc 2 starts with a very moving rendition of Ellington’s Sunset and the Mocking Bird from Tommy Flanagan, Ron Carter and Al Heath. Cassandra Wilson, in heavy mode, with Death Letter follows it. I always need to listen to anything Cassandra does a few times to get with it, but I always find it rewarding. Ray Bryant plays a very interesting piano solo on Dizzy’s Con Alma. After the short hymn, which features Russell Malone on guitar and Jimmy Owens on trumpet, Melba Joyce leads Frank Wess tenor and Lou Donaldson alto into some blues, this time another very talented pianist Hilton Ruiz takes over.

The last track Wee is another all star event featuring Clark Terry flugel, Phil Woods alto and Don Braden tenor, on this Denzil Best jazz standard.

Clark terry is the first soloist and as always with Clark, we are treated to nicely melodic soloing. Phil Woods is as exciting as ever and Howard Johnson demonstrates the art of the possible on tuba, before Don Braden

takes over on tenor and plays a couple of very fluent choruses.

It certainly was ‘A Great Night in Harlem’, highly recommended.


Don Mather




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