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Jim Stack and Friends: Jazz for a Summer’s Day

Jim Stack and Friends’ Jazz for a Summer’s Day (Artists House) is a study in poignancy. It began as a typical combo session by four likeminded North Carolinians whose lives revolve around Charlotte. Fronted by pianist Stack, who doubles on vibes, the others include Doug Henry, tenor and clarinet, bassist Tom Hildreth and drummer Jim Lackey. All are fine, well-schooled mainstream musicians with credits worth boasting about, but even they had to know that the CD would never become a landmark. However, due to a chance remark by Stack, who told Charlotte icon Loonis McGlohon the session was taking place, the CD is destined to become historical.

Just before it began, McGlohon suddenly materialized. Here was the great one who had worked with and written for Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Keith Jarrett, Judy Garland, even Eileen Farrell. There was tension; warm greetings were exchanged, but no one would acknowledge that McGlohon was dying of an inoperable cancer. He called his best-known tune, “Blackberry Winter,” (one of some 75 tunes he and Alec Wilder had contributed to the Great American Songbook). Stack switched to vibes for that one. For his only other tune, McGlohon played a solo version of “Songbird.”

That unscheduled guest appearance inspired Stack and friends to play above their normal capabilities. Listen especially to “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” and Stack’s lovely solo performance of “Some Other Time.” In retrospect it must have saddened them to know their session contains the final recorded notes of a much-loved legend. McGlohon died six weeks later, in January 2002.

Originally Published