Jack Prather, bassist and composer, a musician of extraordinary sensitivity, spent much his music career paying homage to America ’s greatest popular composers, Kern, Porter, Gershwin, in a live revue, with captivating narrations and vocal interpretations.
In his new release, "Shades", Jack again gives a joyous tribute to the influences of Johnny Mercer, Bobby Troupe, and Dave Frishberg, with this collection of lovely, and often, unpredictable originals. Surrounded by a group of solid southern California musicians, this is a collection worth owning.
The first of fifteen tracks is the title tune, "Shades", on which Jack, along with long-time friend, Stephanie Haynes, shares the melody followed by lovely solos by Keith Bishop on soprano sax and Ron Stout's trumpet. Jack’s vocal styling demonstrates his ability to deliver with an intimacy that usually takes artists many years to acquire. Another smoking original, "Don’t Look Now", is a beautifully structured duet with Stephanie, and a fine chorus from Ron Stout. "I Heard You Had the Blues"," is a more laid-back tune, whose vocal styling and lyrics harken back to the more traditional blues ballads. There are other blues tunes in this collection as well, "Sleepless in Seattle", and "I Heard You Had the Blues".
"Indiana Autumn," is a mournful ballad that will have you sitting up and taking notice, as Dewey Ernie’s soulful vocal attests to the strong connection between him and the picturesque lyrics. And Stephanie’s treatment of "Suddenly It’s Summer", is lush and poignant. ‘I Don’t Dance, "Crazy About You, and "Fall Guy " are influenced by love songs of the 40’s, as is the sweet, "Here’s Looking’ at You Kid’
One never ceases to be amazed by the versatility which Jack demonstrates as an artist, and. "Do You Love Me," is another fine example of his musical dexterity, as he blurs the genres with a tune which is imbued with a Latin feel. Some tunes are fun, like, "Wake Me When It's Over", Others, like the catchy, "Hot Club of France", and "Italian Jazz", play homage to Jack’s love of jazz musicians past and present. And there are the love songs, "Do You Love Me", and "Take Me", whose lyrics will surprise you!
The musicians, in addition to Keith and Ron, include Leonard Thompson on piano and Jerry Kalaf on drums. They weave in and out of each tune effortlessly with strong solos and flawless punctuation. Sam Shepherd a solid guitarist who plays on this CD, is also the session’s producer.
"Shades", is smart and hip, a back-to-basics album that, while firmly in the mainstream jazz tradition, works to remind listeners why they loved this kind of music in the first place.