Jazz Passengers

Live in Spain

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Artists ranging from Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole and Teena Marie to Sting have demonstrated that certain rock and R&B stars can successfully handle jazz-oriented or jazz-influenced situations if given the chance. Similarly, Deborah Harry made a radical departure from the type of pop-rock she was known for when, in the mid-'90s, she became the lead singer for an avant-garde jazz outfit known as the Jazz Passengers. Recorded live at Spain's Victoria Jazz Festival in 1997, this CD proves that the former lead singer of Blondie was definitely up for the challenge. In fact, Harry sounds quite inspired on such abstract inside/outside offerings as "Maybe I'm Lost," "Lady Butter" and "Samba Uber Alles." It's important to stress that as angular, quirky and cerebral as much of this music is, the band is actually very musical. Even at their most daring, Harry and fellow Passengers Roy Nathanson (alto, tenor and soprano sax), Rob Thomas (violin) and Curtis Hasselbring (trombone) remind us how focused avant-garde jazz can be. For Harry, making the transition from "In the Sun" and "Hanging on the Telephone" to the Passengers is comparable to an actress who'd made her mark in romantic comedies getting into film noir, or basketball icon Michael Jordan trying his hand at baseball. But while Jordan realized that he wasn't much of a baseball player, Harry makes an impressive and convincing jazz singer.

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