Harold Mabern Afro Blue on 180g 2LP
Featuring Guest Vocals by Gregory Porter, Norah Jones, Jane Monheit, Kurt Elling & Alexis Cole!
Mastered for Vinyl by Keviny Gray / Includes 2,000-Word Interview
Harold Mabern's second release on on Smoke Sessions Records, Afro Blue, is a very special recording featuring guest vocalists Gregory Porter, Norah Jones, Jane Monheit, Kurt Elling, and Alexis Cole. The chemistry of these artists with Harold – the sound of his piano voicings combined with their voices – is extraordinary. Well-known in jazz circles as a consummate accompanist for instrumental soloists, The Mabe also has a special gift for sensitive and supportive playing behind singers.
It's something he takes pride in and has been doing since he first hit the stage at Birdland half a century ago with Betty Carter. "I love vocalists. I love to play for singers because that's really how you learn how to play the piano jazz-wise. They go through every aspect of music – changing keys, slow tempos to fast, playing rubato, playing verses, all of the Great American Songbook – that's really how you learn how to play," says Mabern.
There is a lot of music and there are a lot of memorable performances on Afro Blue but Mabern's soulful, blues-driven style is the constant highlight. He is joined by a stellar supporting cast – Jeremy Pelt, Eric Alexander and Steve Turre form a killer horn section while John Webber and Joe Farnsworth complete his reliable rhythm team. Guitarist Peter Bernstein also makes a special appearance on Steely Dan's "Do It Again."
Mabern adds, "I'll tell you, it was really the most difficult thing I've ever done. It was definitely a challenge, but I think we pulled it off. I'm quite pleased with it, you know."
180-gram vinyl pressing of Mabern's acclaimed Afro Blue celebrates his 80th birthday in March 2016 and includes tip-on jacket with 2,000-word interview and original Jimmy Katz photography. Mastered for vinyl by Kevin Gray.