Various Artists

Voices of Concord Jazz: Live at Montreux

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Concord Records celebrated its 30-year anniversary with a special concert at the 2003 Montreux Jazz Festival, featuring seven different singers from the label's roster. The young singing pianist Peter Cincotti, with his regular band in tow, sets the table with an upbeat performance, including original material ("I Changed the Rules") and a bossa nova ("Sway") as well as a humorous interpretation of "Ain't Misbehavin'." The seasoned singer Karrin Allyson is next, joined by pianist Frank Chastenier, bassist John Goldsby, guitarist Danny Embrey, and drummer Greg Field. The highlight of her set is her interpretation of Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'." Monica Mancini's moving interpretation of Henry Mancini's (her father) "Charade" is backed by a brisk bossa nova rhythm, utilizing the identical band backing Allyson but adding vibraphonist Dave Samuels. Her funky take of her father's "Dreamsville" is a duet with Curtis Stigers. Diane Schuur is accompanied by the WDR Big Band. Schuur still overindulges herself with excessive screaming in her "Deedle's Blues," which distracts from her considerable capabilities. Two tunes by Barry Manilow, a friendly duet of "Stay Away from Bill" with Allyson and the swinging "Meet Me, Midnight," are better examples of her true skill. Curtis Stigers' set is one of two major weaknesses of the concert, though the WDR Big Band shines. His light vocals are an acquired taste, but sticking exclusively to performing two of his mediocre originals does not add to his appeal. Nnenna Freelon has become one of Concord's greatest singing stars. Backed by the WDR Big Band, she sets the audience afire with her updated treatment of "Better Than Everything." The gorgeous chart of Billie Holiday's "Lady Sings the Blues" well suits her voice. Patti Austin falls flat in her salute to the late Ella Fitzgerald, especially when she is compared against any of Ella's numerous recordings of "How High the Moon." The piece is reprised, with each of the singers taking turns, though Cincotti sticks to piano. The engineering is flawless throughout the CD, which is also available as a single DVD from Concord.

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