North America Jazz Alliance: The Montreal Sessions

Here’s a versatile little band that mixes small group swing with a hip attitude. You gotta have guts these days to feature the accordion in a band, but these guys pull it off. Consisting of Kenny Kotwitz/add, Steve Hobbs/vib, Greg clayton/g, Dave Laing/dr, Alec Walkington/b and John LaBelle/voc, the NAJA cruises through a dozen standards with an infectious joy. The squeeze box will either remind you of the last wedding/bar mitzvah you went to, or a piazza with cooing pigeons in Italy, as Kotwitz throws the gauntlet down for Clayton and Hobbs on the assertive “Charade” and the slick and sleek “Delilah.” The moody “Angel Eyes” is a perfect vehicle for Kotwitz and Hobbs, while Clayton gets a nice spotlight on the cooking “Cute.” LaBelle’s vocals on “Close Your Eyes” and ‘Dancing In The Dark” are assured and confident, while Clayton’s intro to “It Could Happen to You” a fret-filled highlight. Congeniality is a plus here.

Challenge Records

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