Frank Jackson

New York After Dark

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Frank Jackson was active as a jazz singer who switched to piano as opportunities dried up. A young 78 at the time of the recording sessions here on New York After Dark, he returns to his first love, displaying a seasoned voice that doesn't show the ravages of time at all. It doesn't hurt that Jackson hired four top musicians, including the late pianist James Williams (on what is likely one of his last recordings), saxophonist Billy Pierce, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Kenny Washington. Jackson savors the easy-going treatment of "You Go to My Head," with Pierce's sensuous soprano sax and Williams overdubbing a bit of organ underneath his piano in spots. Pierce switches to tenor sax for the brisk bop arrangement of "What Is This Thing Called Love," though only Washington backs Jackson as he makes his entrance. But the singer obviously loves exploring less-familiar songs, as well. He embraces Una Mae Carlisle's long-overlooked ballad "I See a Million People But All I Can See Is You" like a standard that's been a part of his repertoire for decades (which it may very well be). It's a shame that Frank Jackson hasn't been recorded more frequently during his long career, but perhaps this rewarding CD will open new doors for him.

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