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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Hank & Frank II

Lineage LIN 106



1. Sunday
2. Lord Prepare Me
3. More Than You Know
4. If I Were a Bell
5. I Had the Craziest Dream
6. When Your Lover Has Gone
7. Chasing the Bird
8. Ill Wind
9. Jordu
10. The First Time I Saw Ella
11. Quintessence
12. You Don't Know What Love Is
13. Stay as Sweet as You Are
14. For All We Know
15. I'll Be Seeing You
Hank Jones - Piano
Frank Wess - Tenor sax
Mickey Roker - Drums
Marion Cowings - Vocals
Ilya Lushtak - Guitar
John Webber- Bass

Clearly this CD is a sequel - to a 2006 album entitled Hank and Frank. It brought together two octogenarians with a wealth of experience behind them. Hank Jones was a pianist who had virtually played for everyone in the jazz world. Hank - the elder brother of Thad Jones and Elvin Jones - had worked with everybody from Hot Lips Page to Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald to Charlie Parker, Lester Young to Tony Williams. Frank Wess is, of course, best-known from his 11-year stint with Count Basie's orchestra, where he established himself not only as a memorable tenorist (often contrasting effectively with the more robust Frank Foster) but also as a pioneering flautist

Wess is heard on tenor sax here, although he gracefully steps aside on several tracks to give featured space to two other people: guitarist Ilya Lushtak and vocalist Marion Cowings. Lushtak is one of the main revelations of this CD: playing many clean-lined solos and fusing supportively with Frank's tenor in such tunes as Charlie Parker's beboppish Chasing the Bird. On Ill Wind, Frank sounds as mellifluous as Ben Webster.

Marion Cowings is not so much a revelation as an embarrassment. His first name may be ambiguous but, like John Wayne (real name: Marion Morrison) he's a man - who mars too many tracks with his mediocre singing. He has apparently worked with Jon Hendricks, and he essays vocalese on such tracks as If I Were a Bell, but his intonation is sometimes dodgy. He takes up space which would be better occupied by more from Frank Wess. Cowings is not particularly bad: he is just not good enough to make me want to hear a lot of him. On tracks 10 to 13, he is accompanied only by Hank Jones, whose backings are consistently impeccable, but they can't conceal the shortcomings in the vocals on a number like Quintessence.

This album was apparently recorded at the same time as Hank & Frank, with the same line-up except for the addition of the vocalist. The good news is that guitarist Ilya Lushtak is given plenty of space to shine. The bad news is that Marion Cowings is given too much space to show his deficiencies.

Tony Augarde


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