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Loston Harris: Swingfully Yours

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The liner notes for Loston Harris’ Swingfully Yours set a clear agenda. “This recording is all about swing,” declares the pianist and singer, a mainstay at New York’s famed Carlyle Hotel. “No torch songs or ballads, just tunes with tempos that make you wanna tap your toes.” Harris delivers on his promise with this nine-track collection, his quartet deep in the pocket of their frontman’s all-swing, all-the-time marching orders.

Harris isn’t out to re-conceptualize the standards that make up the setlist for Swingfully Yours. This is old-school small-group swing, with a bounce and ebullience that works for laidback listening as well as it would for the dance floor. Harris’ work on the 88s is crisp and elegant, simultaneously devoted to pace and melodic clarity. But he’s unafraid to lay down hammer-blow block chords on “Hey You With the Crazy Eyes,” and he burns through a finger-busting solo on his own instrumental arrangement of Earl Warren’s “9:20 Special.” While perhaps not as stylistically distinctive as his piano, Harris’ vocals, smoky-smooth with a minimum of croon, caress Ralph Freed’s legendary lyrics for “How About You?,” and he brings a pleasing breathiness to Cahn and Van Heusen’s “You Can’t Love ‘Em All.”

Tenor saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith offers a fine, full tone whether soloing or comping behind Harris’ vocals. Gianluca Renzi works his bass’ natural woodiness for all it’s worth on “Kiss and Run,” and Carmen Intorre Jr.’s slick snare shots and sharp ride cymbal give the music a splashy energy throughout. Swingfully Yours runs a brisk 39 minutes, but Harris and his ensemble pack every second with pure, no-nonsense swing.

Originally Published