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On A Lazy Afternoon, the esteemed and seasoned tenor vet Harold Land and drummer Billy Higgins combine forces with the orchestration of Ray Ellis, who arranged Billie Holiday's Lady in Satin, to create a recording of jazz drive, tensile strength, and lush romanticism. For the twelve standards included on the disc, Ellis has crafted deft arrangements that showcase Land's proclivity for emotion-laden performances; the result is a dynamic package that celebrates both melody and rhythm in an atmosphere rich with feeling. For many performers, working with a string section is a long-held dream. The lush backdrop warmly supports an instrumentalist or a singer, setting the stage for emotional, often unforgettable performances. Listen to orchestral albums by such greats as Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Clifford Brown, and Johnny Hodges, and the beauty and feeling that arise from these situations is soon appreciated.
A Lazy Afternoon is a stellar contribution to this genre. Here, the consummate tenor saxophone artistry of Harold Land, easily one of jazz's premier improvisers, meets the sumptuous string orchestrations of Ray Ellis, who is best recalled for Lady in Satin, the 1958 session for Columbia Records for which he wrote gorgeous string backdrops for Holiday.
A Lazy Afternoon features ear-pleasing renditions of such evergreens as "You Go To My Head," "Invitation," "You Don't Know What Love Is," "Nature Boy," "In A Sentimental Mood," "Wave," and the title track, "Lazy Afternoon." Land and the string and orchestral palette are accompanied by the ace rhythm team of Billy Higgins (drums), William Henderson (piano), and James Leary (bass).
...timeless pieces, beautifully rendered...if you are a seeker of beauty, Harold Land has the answer... -- JazzTimes (September 1995)
Land glides through Ray Ellis' orchestral charts, rhapsodizing forlorn and alluding to noirish days gone by. -- Billboard, May 6, 1995
Land glides through Ray Ellis' orchestral charts, rhapsodizing forlorn and alluding to noirish days gone by... -- Billboard (May 6, 1995)
Land is a fine musician who has not received the fame he deserves. -- Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Why didn't someone think of this before? . . .timeless pieces, beautifully rendered . . . if you are a seeker of beauty, Harold Land has the answer. -- JazzTimes, September 1995
Top customer reviews
Harold Land, who happens to be one of my favorite saxophonists, is in fine form. His warm tone and his less is more approach to improvisation on this recording make it an absolute dream to listen to. I would wager this is one of the finest "with strings" albums I've ever heard.
Land is supported by a stellar group of musicians: Bill Henderson on piano, James Leary on bass, Billy Higgins on drums, and Alan Pasqua on synthesizer. All of the arrangements and conducting are done by Ray Ellis.
The music itself can only be summed up with two words: lush and gorgeous. If you're a classical fan looking to get into something with more improvisation, then this is the record for you or if you're already a jazz fan and love these with strings sessions, then you're going to love this.
On a side note, Downbeat magazine gave this recording 3-stars, which only proves that time after time again that Downbeat doesn't have a clue as to what is good and what isn't. This is easly a 5-star album, no doubt about it.
Pick this one up today!
We're not talking about jazz that falls into the genres of hard bop or bebop; it's far removed from these categories. These melodies remain true to their composers and are played with peerless perfection for their melody and rhythm. This CD is a testimonial to the kind of melodic jazz first-rate jazz musicians create for world-weary listeners who need breathing spells and lulls from the demands of their sometimes hectic lives. The jazz is smooth, but not "smooth jazz", for it is an acoustical production crafted and executed by a fine corps of musicians who understood and mastered the melody and rhythm of each of these twelve classics. The opening track, "Lazy Afternoon", is stellar and sets the mood which is sustained by the remaining eleven songs. Land imbues each ballad with a languorous fluidity and delivery uniquely his own, one that identifies him as a balladeer extraordinaire.
The total listening experience is greater than just the twelve tracks singularly chosen for this CD, just as the beauty of a bouquet exceeds the beauty of any individual flower. Beginning with the Broadway musical song, "Lazy Afternoon", to Thelonious Monk's best-known jazz composition, "Round Midnight", Land caresses each song with unmitigated grace. You're sure to forget your troubles and stress while this relaxing music reveals itself as an antidote for the frustrations of your day. Like a bouquet, these songs have hues of a different color, guaranteed on lifting your spirit . . . performed with tenderness by Harold Land, one of tenor saxophonist's incomparable artists.
On this album he is backed up by an orchestra arranged and conducted by Ray Ellis.His actual group is a quintet, & Land shows himself to be an excellent balladeer with tunes like "You Don't Know What Love Is," In a Sentimental Mood," "But Beautiful" & "Round Midnight."
I'd have to rank him with the great ballad players like Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, not to mention Charlie Parker & Kenny Burrell.
I think you'll enjoy this album. I know I did.