Allan Harris pay tribute to Bill Evans/Tony Bennett

Bill Evans’s wistful, lightly skipping “Waltz for Debby” is a classic 1950s jazz composition that doesn’t really need words to conjure an evanescent childhood dream world. But its lyrics, added several years later by Gene Lees, about a little girl who will soon outgrow her “dolls and clowns and a big purple bear,” deepen the poignancy of a song that imagines those toys missing her once she abandons them. Enlarge This Image
Ruby Washington/The New York Times Allan Harris performing songs from his CD “Convergence.” Allan Harris photo from the NY Times To hear the jazz singer Allan Harris pouring warmth and tenderness into that song, which he performed in an exquisitely syncopated vocal arrangement on Tuesday evening at the Metropolitan Room, was to peek into a child’s enchanted toy land through the eyes of a devoted father.

Music Review  By STEPHEN HOLDEN for The New York Times Published: August 29, 2012

That performance was the high point of Mr. Harris’s new show, which remembers the ’70s duet albums that Evans recorded with Tony Bennett. Mr. Harris’s new album with the pianist Takana Miyamoto, “Convergence” (Love Productions Records), consists of recordings of 10 songs from the Bennett-Evans sessions that closely echo the style and spirit of the originals. Orrin Evans (no relation to Bill) was Mr. Harris’s excellent pianist on Tuesday.

Mr. Harris’s formidable baritone, with its husky edges and deep, resonant low notes, bears little resemblance to Mr. Bennett’s tenor-baritone. But the two singers are temperamentally quite similar. When Mr. Harris mutes his lurking blues bark, he closely resembles Nat King Cole. His approach is polite, pleasant and reassuring without being bland.

Mr. Harris performed the songs in the same order that they appear on “Convergence,” with only one addition, a fragment of “When in Rome,” a number he was still in the process of learning and for which he played guitar. A lightly swinging version of Ray Noble’s “Touch of Your Lips” was the most exuberant number in a mostly reflective evening. The song choices — “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Young and Foolish,” “You Must Believe in Spring,” “Some Other Time” and “We’ll Be Together Again” — made the show a sustained reverie on the passing of the time.

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