This is an “outside the box” recording in that it is not the standard jazz CD. It features poetry by Langston Hughes set to music by composer Louis Rosen. Vocalists are Alton Fitzgerald White and Capatha Jenkins. Likely the average jazz fan will be unfamiliar with any of the principals here.
In reading about the artists in the liner notes, accompanying literature for the reviewer and on Louis Rosen’s website, I learn that all have impressive backgrounds in musical theatre. And the music reflects that genre rather than the usual jazz styling.
On first listen, it was difficult to understand all the words. However, as suggested in the liner notes, I went to Mr. Rosen’s website www.louisrosen.com and printed the poetic lyrics. It made all the difference in being able to understand appreciate not only the poetry but the music itself. Isn’t that the way with both opera and musical theatre? It helps to better understand the “story.”
The liner notes indicate that the recording was made is 2002 and the premier performance was at the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City in 2006. The adventurous listener may wish to sample some of the songs by accessing Mr. Rosen’s website. A sampling of the fourteen songs on this recording include: “Harlem Night Song,” “Song for Billie Holiday,” “Hurt,” “Blues at Dawn.” and “Dream Suite.”
DREAM SUITE Songs in Jazz and Blues on poems by Langston Hughes
Distributed by Di-tone Records