JANE BUNNETT, STANLEY
COWELL, DEWEY REDMAN,
DEAN BOWMAN, LARRY
CRAMER, KIERAN OVERS,
"Spirituals & Dedications"
Jane Bunnett was the driving force behind the new album "Spirituals & Dedications." The Toronto saxophonist came up with the idea of recording jazz-vocal interpretations of gospel-influenced music, co-produced it with her husband and trumpeter Larry Cramer and used four members of her regular band (herself, Cramer, vocalist Dean Bowman and drummer Mark McLean) as the core group. But she also invited three old friends (pianist Stanley Cowell, saxophonist Dewey Redman and bassist Kieran Overs) to participate, and it became such a democratic project (she doesn't even play on three of the 10 tracks) that she credited the finished album to all seven musicians.
Bowman is the revelation. A baritone singer with a big, rich voice, he brings the same combination of church-service dignity and jazz-club agility to both the traditional hymns and the jazz compositions. In his unaccompanied duets with Cowell and Redman on "I'm Gonna Tell God" and "Nobody Knows," respectively, Bowman treats his partners not as accompanists but as equal collaborators and proves their match at improvisation. Bowman's newly penned lyrics for Cowell's "Illusion Suite" and Charles Mingus's "Ecclusiastics" are underwhelming, but his vocals are so passionate that you almost don't notice. And the saxophone and flute voices of Bunnett and Redman prove just as fervent, just as eloquent.
-- Geoffrey Himes
Appearing Saturday at the John Addison Concert Hall. * To hear a free Sound Bite from "Spirituals and Dedications," call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8106 . (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)