Various Artists

Great Night in Harlem [2002]

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It's kind of hard to fathom that there were any other worthwhile charities aside from the 9/11 relief fund in the fall of 2001, but many of jazz's best performers found one to dedicate one spectacular night to. This September 24, 2001, concert held at the Apollo Theater gathered many of traditional jazz's best and brightest to raise money for the Jazz Musicians' Emergency Fund, which assists elderly performers with medical coverage, unemployment compensation, and disability. The two-disc set runs like a true jam session, with everyone participating receiving a few moments of spontaneous solo action. The first disc features Randy Brecker and Paquito D'Rivera (on clarinet) trading spotlights as Ron Carter's bass swings heavy beneath on "No Greater Love." Irving Berlin's "If I Had You" receives sparkling candlelight treatment by pianist Kenny Barron and soulful songstress Nnenna Freelon, while Ahmad Jamal leads a lively quartet on a peppy run through his own "Devil's in My Den." It's not all trio and quartet based, at least in the traditional sense. "Fanfare for Four Trumpets" features the splashy harmonic fire of Jimmy Owens, Jon Faddis, Brecker, and Eddie Allen as Dave Gibson keeps time. The highlight of disc two (which also features standout performances by Russell Malone and Cassandra Wilson) is "Wee," which is a brass fanatic's delight, with flugelhorn, alto, tenor, and tuba all vying for attention, then trying to find each other over a quick pulse groove; participants include Clark Terry and Phil Woods. Proceeds from the sale of the CD go to the same charitable fund.

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