Music from Guys and Dolls
The Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet
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In spite of a long successful jazz career, many of tenor saxophonist Harry Allen's recordings have been for European and Japanese labels. So it is good to see him on a mainstream American label like Arbors, where he'll get greater exposure in his homeland. Joining him for this Frank Loesser songbook consisting of 14 songs from the Broadway musical and movie Guys and Dolls are guitarist Joe Cohn, bassist Joel Forbes, and drummer Chuck Riggs, with vocalists Rebecca Kilgore and Eddie Erickson added on most tracks. Allen is a consistent swinger with a pleasing tone that sometimes makes it sound like an alto, while Cohn is a guitarist of the Jim Hall school; he can play with the best of them but he knows how to leave plenty of space and not overplay his hand. Instead of using three vocalists singing rounds in "Fugue for Tinhorns," Allen, Cohn, and Forbes take their place in an intricate arrangement. While "If I Were a Bell," "'Luck Be a Lady," and "I've Never Been in Love Before" have long been standards for jazz musicians, it is the less frequently performed numbers that merit special attention. Kilgore's subtle interpretation of "Marry the Man Today" is complemented by Allen's robust tenor. Erickson's warm take of "Adelaide" shows what an underrated vocalist he is. Kilgore and Erickson, whether singing duets or individual features, are engaging singers who can't help but warm the listener's heart, but their mastery of comic songs like "Sue Me" is also a treat. Because the vocalists have worked together frequently over the years, both at jazz parties and on a number of CDs (including their group BED, which also features Forbes and trombonist Dan Barrett), they have a built-in rapport with each other. Warmly recommended!