Fifteen Shades Of Blue (TrackList follows) – Justin Time Records JR 6706-2, 69:20 ****:
(Diana Krall; Fraser Mac Pherson; Ranee Lee; Oliver Jones; Johnny O’Neal; Hank Jones; Oscar Peterson; Susie Arioli; Brian Hughes; St. Ange; Rob McConnell; Carol Welsman; Taurey Butler; Carmen Lundy; Paul Bley)
Canadians are a rather self-effacing lot, who often bask in the reflected recognition from their neighbors south of the 49th parallel, since being a success in Canada is not necessarily considered good enough. The Canadian label Justin Time Records has put together a sampler of mostly high octane Canadian jazz musicians (there are some exceptions including Hank Jones, Johnny O’Neal among others) that demonstrate that borders do not exist when it comes to acknowledging talent.
Sampler albums by their very nature are more often than not, mash-ups without a consistent theme. To some degree this offering escapes such a fate as the compositions are mostly about romance, love and the consequences of these emotions. Starting with Diana Krall’s take on “This Can’t Be Love” which whips along in straight-ahead fashion, and then big-toned tenor sax man Fraser MacPherson is joined by guitarist Oliver Gannon to make “You Took Advantage Of Me” seem to be a good idea. While this release has been available since last November, it makes an ideal Valentine’s Day offering given the tracks over-arching designation. As Ranee Lee rightly preaches on “When a Woman Loves A Man” ‘She’ll be the first one to praise him when he’s going strong’.
Any offering that includes both Hank Jones and Oscar Peterson has to be doing something right. In this case Jones does his usual uncluttered tasty work on “Because I Love You” and Peterson, who is joined by his early cohorts bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis on ”Alone Together”, with all three swinging in bright fashion showcasing Peterson at his restrained best. The Rob McConnell Tentet takes “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” as a vehicle to provide Guido Basso’s flugelhorn free reign to ride over McConnell’s tight ensemble voicing. Under-appreciated vocalist Carmen Lundy does credit to “This Is The End Of A Love Affair” and pianist Paul Bley gives an ethereal reading to the closing track “Pleasing You”. All in all, this album provides some tantalizing work from some top- notch performers.
Track List: This Can’t Be Love; You Took Advantage Of Me; When A Woman Loves A Man; Lady Be Good; Why Try And Change Me Now; Because I Love You; Foolin’ Myself; Alone Together; Promise You; I Could Almost Love You; I’ll Never Stop Loving You; Hold Me; The Lady Is A Tramp; This Is The End Of A Love Affair; Pleasing You