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Allan Harris: Open up Your Mind

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There is Allan Harris the romantic troubadour, serving up platters of Billy Strayhorn, Ellington and Nat King Cole tunes with his distinctly Cole-esque baritone. There is also Harris the singer-storyteller, two volumes-2006’s Cross That River and its 2009 companion Cry of the Thunderbird-into his vibrant saga of unsung black cowboys, their trials and triumphs.

Not until now, however, as his recording career enters its third decade, has an entire album been devoted to a meeting of Harris the romantic and Harris the songwriter. The inescapable Cole-ness that defined so much of his earlier work has all but disappeared. (Intriguingly, it only surfaces on the album’s sole cover, a gently funkified “Fly Me to the Moon,” suggesting that original material unleashes a more original Harris.) Instead, he eases into a smooth R&B groove more evocative of Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross.

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