Luther Kent gets better as the years roll on

Luther Kent
LUTHER

For music lovers in Louisiana and throughout the world, the title of Luther Kent’s latest CD says plenty — Luther.

A recording artist since he was 14 — which means he’s been making records for 50 years — soul, blues, jazz and rhythm-and-blues singer Kent gets better as the years roll on. His latest album features the work of New Orleans’ late master arranger, Wardell Quezergue, and multiple traditional songs that Kent recorded at Ultrasonic Studios, a facility ruined by the 2005 flood.

Unfortunately, the CD jacket, filled with the names of dozens of talented musicians though it is, doesn’t specify who does what. The names, by the way, include drummers Johnny Vidacovich, Troy Davis and the late Herman Ernest, pianists Mike Esneault and David Torkanowsky, guitarist Jonathon “Boogie” Long, trumpeter Bobby Campo and, from Bonerama, trombonists Craig Klein and Mark Mullins. New Orleans music aficionados likely can figure out who’s playing what. Everyone else can simply enjoy a splendid new album from Kent.

“You Are My Sunshine” gets a big soul treatment that diverges into swing. Kent turns to New Orleans rhythm-and-blues for a song he co-wrote, “Gotta Make New Orleans.” Willie Dixon song “29 Ways,” a standard in Kent’s repertoire, features drumming modeled on the exceptionally lively style that made the late Charles “Hungry” Williams New Orleans’ session drummer of choice. “Careless Love” features a beautiful choral-style horns introduction and guitar fills lifted from the classic soul of Muscle Shoals.

Kent ends the disc with an interpretation of Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927,” authoritative on the singer’s end and lovingly orchestral in arrangement. Luther is available from http://www.CDBaby.com and The Louisiana Music Factory in New Orleans.

John Wirt

Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck
BENNETT/BRUBECK — THE WHITE HOUSE SESSIONS, LIVE 1962

On Aug. 28, 1962, singer Tony Bennett and jazz pianist Dave Brubeck performed a White House-sponsored concert for college students who’d worked as interns in the nation’s capital that summer. Following a meeting with President John F. Kennedy earlier that day, Bennett and Brubeck entertained the students as the Washington Monument served as their backdrop.

Bennett’s love song to the city by the bay, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” had just begun climbing the Billboard pop singles chart. Brubeck had his own recent commercial success, “Take Five,” a rare jazz instrumental that found mainstream popularity. Although both men continued to make great music in the decades after the Washington Monument show, they were in their relatively youthful prime in 1962.

Bennett and Brubeck played their own sets and then, without the benefit of rehearsal, performed four additional songs together. Their long misplaced and only recently found all-star collaboration is available on CD for the first time on Bennett/Brubeck — The White House Sessions, Live 1962. The impromptu performance is not revelatory in itself but, in the context of a complete concert starring Bennett with his regular group, the Ralph Sharon Trio, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet, it’s a lively piece of jazz history.

John Wirt