Jason Jenkins Group - Cole Porter Songbook Liner Notes
Jason Jenkins is not only one of the most important jazz musicians based in Richmond, Virginia but a world class bassist and songwriter. His previous four recordings all contain examples of his originals but, on his new Cole Porter Songbook, he concentrates on giving strong support and contributing occasional solos to a set of seven standards composed by Porter.
Jenkins’ creative pianoless quartet also includes soprano-saxophonist Kevin Simpson, guitarist Alan Parker and drummer Devonne Harris, each of whom make strong contributions to the CD. In addition, there are two guest singers.
Cole Porter’s music has been interpreted a countless number of times through the decades, so it must have been a bit of a challenge to come up with fresh renditions, but Jenkins and his musicians succeed. Their program begins with “Love For Sale.” After a brief introduction by soprano and drums, Charles Darden takes his first of three vocals of the set. Simpson creates a passionate soprano solo, there are good spots for Parker and Jenkins, and the singer is highly expressive during the final half chorus.
“All Of You” became a standard in the jazz world in the 1950s after it was first recorded by Miles Davis. Singer Darden and Jenkins have their spots but it is the lively guitar playing of Parker that takes honors.
Each of the performers has their opportunities to star. On an instrumental version of “Night & Day,” Simpson has one of his strongest showcases of the date, bringing in the melody, stretching out in several spots, and trading off with drummer Harris. Throughout this performance, he shows that he has his own sound.
“I Love Paris,” which has a haunting vocal by Charles Darden, features excellent spots for Simpson and Parker with Jason Jenkins taking the intro and contributing a thoughtful solo.
Guitarist Alan Parker is in the spotlight throughout much of “Everything I Love.” He plays both the opening and closing melodies and has an extensive solo, with Simpson and Jenkins also having their say.
“What Is This Thing Called Love,” one of the most famous of all Cole Porter tunes, is given an unusual treatment. While Simpson’s soprano is often in the lead, this is primarily an ensemble performance with the musicians giving the piece a funky reggae-like rhythm that works perfectly at the medium-slow tempo.
Concluding this exploration of Cole Porter’s songbook is a version of “At Long Last Love” on which Sharon Rae North’s fine singing is in the forefront.
Each of Jason Jackson’s CDs are enjoyable and well worth hearing. His Cole Porter Songbook casts fresh light on decades-old songs and features each member of his quartet in prime form.
Author of ten jazz books including Bebop, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Record 1917-76 and Jazz On Film