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James Leary- James II
Release Date: 1992

James Leary/Bass, Eddie Harris/Vocal & Sax, Billy Childs/Piano, Ralph Penland/Drums

1. Joshua
2. Have You Met Miss Jones?
3. A Flower is a Lonesome Thing
4. Seven Steps To Heaven
5. Spiral
6. Laugh, Laugh Again
7. Oleo
8. Hold My Hand

I am very fortunate to own this CD. This is a sentimental favorite; the difficulty in obtaining this CD enhances its preciousness. This CD is put out by VTL, aka Vacuum Tube Logic of America, an audiophile company specializing in manufacturing high quality audio pre- and power amplifiers. It does not usually make CDs. But in order to fulfill its buyers' satisfaction with its equipment, in 1992, VTL put out a set of 12 CDs, each recorded by a prominent jazz, blues or classical artist while coated in the ambiance of an audiophile recording. I first heard some of these amazing CDs at my uncle's home in Los Angeles. During the listening session, I was most impressed by James Leary's second CD, simply entitled "James II" by the company. I asked my uncle where he got the CDs and he told me the VTL owner gave them to him.

Jealous, I went to my computer and typed in "James Leary" in eBay. I saw a completed copy which nobody bought. And the bid price was only $1.00. So I e-mailed the seller and said I would buy the CD for $2.00 He never replied. Fortunately, the same item was on bid again and I finally bought the damn thing for $1.00. It was a good deal and I was happy.

Aside from the Freudian adventure, the CD itself is a blast. The sound is of course wonderful. Leary plays with a dedicate heart, paying tribute to Rodgers & Hart (Miss Jones), Miles Davis (7 Steps), Coltrane (Spiral) and Sonny Rollins (Oleo). His own compositions are less successful but certainly worth a try. The first song "Joshua" sets the tone for this lush, classy album which is rare and hard to find.

Also what's a bonus is that Leary invites Eddie Harris, the legendary saxophone player and free jazz artist who has been missed by the jazz world in decades. He comes back and joins the quartet in full throttle, demonstrating greatly his straight-ahead ability. If you have other VTL CDs, please e-mail or call me and share your experience in how you obtained them. I'm sure we'll spend a day talking on the telephone.

Extended Listening

-Art Tatum- Ben Webster- The Tatum Group Mastepieces

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