If you are unfamiliar with Allan Harris as I was, get a hold of this CD and introduce yourself to a wonderful jazz singer and a jewel of an album. An album that beautifully blends the genre of jazz vocals with the sophistication and power of the full orchestra big band that results in one treasure of a recording. Here Comes Allan Harris and The Metropole Orchestra is a fifteen track CD of classic pop and jazz standards from such musical giants as Gershwin, Berlin, Jobim, Kern, Van Heusen and Charlie Parker. Allan Harris is gifted with a soothing baritone voice, that if you close your eyes and you did not know it was Harris singing, you would think you were listening to Nat King Cole. Harris reaches and caresses each tune with the emotion and feelings you thought only Sinatra could do.
It's hard to believe that this CD was recorded in 1994. The music is as fresh and exciting as ever and serves as an example of how timeless great jazz music can be. There is no question that this CD is an Allan Harris project. However, there is also no doubt that what makes this recording so special, is the collaboration with the renowned Metropole Orchestra from Europe. This Netherlands based fifty-four (54) piece big band provides one breath-taking musical background setting that elevates the performance by Mr. Harris and ensures one hell of a sound. The Orchestra is directed by Dick Bakker and on this recording, conducted and arranged by Rob Pronk. Mr. Pronk's arrangements compliments Harris' singing and perfectly marries his style with the breadth of a full symphony and jazz orchestra that seems to turn each song into musical gold. The music is simply superb.
The music in this CD, swings, cooks and mellows out, stretching the range of musical emotions. If you prefer love songs, you'll find them in the tunes "You don't know what love is" and in "My one and only love". If you like the upbeat stuff, there is the sizzling "Yardbird Suite," a Charlie Parker composition that features a sultry sax solo by Jos Berendsen. One of my favorites is Irving Berlin's "Cheek to cheek" that Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers danced to in the movie Top Hat.
The one track that fools you from the start, is Jobim's "The girl from Ipanema," a song that is known as a classic bossa nova standard, is masterfully disguised like a jazzy Duke Ellington number but still manages to deliver the bossa nova touch in a slightly different big band style. In summation, this is one super CD that serious jazz fans should have in their collection next to Sinatra, Bennet, and Torme among others.