Stanley Cowell

Mandara Blossoms

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Although pianist Stanley Cowell is the leader of this CD, the music is dominated by the vocals of Karen Francis who interprets six of Cowell's originals (including his best-known tune "Equipoise"), Billy Strayhorn's "Daydream" and the obscure "A Whole New World." Francis has a pleasant voice but is not an improviser and the lyrics fail to hold one's interest for long. There are some good spots for Cowell and tenor saxophonist Bill Pierce to stretch out (bassist Jeff Halsey and drummer Ralph Peterson are fine in support) but overall the solos are more interesting than the compositions, which are more interesting than the vocals, which are better than the lyrics.

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