Here are three CDs that are worth adding to any music lovers’ collection — jazz fan or not. All three are made with love and respect for these artists who have made such a big difference in the music of this country.
Genius Loves Company
The recent passing of Ray Charles makes this recording even more valuable since it must be among his last recordings, and is his first full album of duets. Guests joining Charles in spirited vocal combinations are Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Elton John, B.B. King, Gladys Knight, Michael McDonald, Johnny Mathis, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor. This October, the movie Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story, starring Jamie Foxx, will be released, adding more luster to this tribute to the 12-time Grammy Award winner and receiver of the Presidential Medal for the Arts.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars - This is an instant collector’s item for all genres and ages of music fans of an American music icon.
Monica Mancini with various artists
Composer, bandleader, Oscar and Grammy winner, the late Henry Mancini is receiving dual honors this year with a commemorative postal stamp, and it’s the 40th anniversary of his “Pink Panther Theme.” In this release, showcasing an all-star lineup of guest artists, daughter Monica Mancini sings on nine of the 16 tracks and is especially moving on “Two For The Road.” Appearances include Stevie Wonder playing harmonica with Take 6 on “Moon River,” Plas Johnson’s tenor sax, Joey Defrancesco’s B-3 organ and Gary Burton’s vibes swinging hard on the “Pink Panther Theme” and Tom Scott’s blazing sax on the “Peter Gunn Theme.” This collection clearly shows why Mancini was labeled “the High Priest of Hollywood Cool” by Donald Fagen.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars - Hip, sophisticated jazz played with respectful passion for the “Ultimate Mancini.”
For Ever, For Always, For Luther
This tribute is a love letter to Luther Vandross, from the smooth jazz community and Soul Stars. It’s also a means to support the American Diabetes Association, fighting the disease that impacted Vandross’ career. There are sterling performances by all the guest artists on Luther Vandross classics. One of the most heartfelt is Rick Braun’s trumpet on “Dance with My Father.” Saxophonist Kirk Whalum’s soulful rendering of “Any Love” starts this tribute. Other guests include George Benson, Mindi Abair, Dave Koz with Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliot, Lalah Hathway, Boney James, Ledisi and Paul Jackson Jr. There is a second booklet asking you to write a love letter to Luther with a contribution to the “Forever, For Always, For Luther Fund” of the American Diabetes Association, which will be forward to Vandross and his family.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars - Luther’s hits are performed by all with a depth of sensitivity and passion for Luther Vandross — an artist they cherish.
As summer is winding down, so is the outdoor jazz scene. Broad Ripple Park Jazz by Indy Parks and WTPI radio will feature Conga Jazz Tuesday, Aug. 24 in a free concert, 7 to 9 p.m. Holliday Park hosts the Barton Rogers Dance Band in a free concert at Aug. 25, 7 p.m. Garfield Park has Tommy Mullinix & The Naptown Strutters playing a free concert Saturday, Aug. 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Upcoming dates are the Indiana Avenue Renaissance Jazz & Blues Festival opening Sept. 3 at the Madame Walker Ballroom featuring national recording artist Roy Meriwether, admission $15, and Sept. 10-12 at the Canal Greenway Stage has free concerts each night with local and New York artists.
Chatterbox, 435 Massachusetts Ave. Friday, Bleu Django debuts. Saturday, Steven Jones Group. Music 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m. both nights. Wine Garden Jazz, Easley Winery, 205 N. College Ave. Saturday, Bill Lancton, 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, Burke & Taylor, 5-7 p.m.
Jazz Kitchen, 54 Street and College Avenue. Friday, Everett Greene Quintet with Steve Allee, piano. Saturday, Grammy-nominated saxophonist Jane Bunnett & The Spirits of Havana. Shows 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. both nights. Sullivan’s Steakhouse, 3316 E. 86th St., Keystone at the Crossing. Friday, Steve Corn, piano, and Joe Deal, bass, 5:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday, Claude Sifferlen, piano, Joe Deal, bass, 5-11 p.m.
Eddie Merlot’s, 3645 E. 96th St. Friday, Lisa Baldwin, vocals and keyboards, 7 to 11 p.m.
Smokehouse Cafe, County Line Road and Meridian Street. “Sunday Jazz Brunch” with The Impulse Trio, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Pauly’s Italian Restaurant, Southport Road and Highway 37. features saxophonist Sophie Faught & Maiden Voyage, Wednesday, 6:30-9:30 p.m.; Friday, 7-10 p.m.
Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning Jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.