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Charley Harrison with Jeff Lindberg’s Chicago Jazz Orchestra: Keeping My Composure

Charley Harrison has been the guitarist for the Chicago Jazz Orchestra since 1991 when it was known as the Jazz Members Big Band. Harrison has also served as an arranger for the CJO as well as a composer, arranger or orchestrator in other contexts. Keeping My Composure features Harrison’s arrangements of six of his own compositions and five by others, including Duke Pearson’s “Jeannine” and Jobim’s “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado).” Seven of the charts are scored for vocalists and include a swinging Kurt Elling rendition of “Jeannine” and a soulful Freddy Cole reading of “On the South Side of Chicago,” a cousin to “Basin Street Blues.” Frieda Lee and Sara Gazarek ably handle the others, which include Harrison’s witty, double-entendre-filled “Recipe for Romance.”

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra has been around for some time now and has achieved a high level of polish and musicianship-the ensemble parts are tight, the soloists are accomplished and the rhythm section swings. Accordingly, they execute Harrison’s well-crafted and varied modern-mainstream arrangements admirably. On one special track, pianist Cedar Walton, accompanied only by bass and drums, renders a simple and sensitive performance of Harrison’s lovely “Lori’s Dream.”

Originally Published