Will Hermes
April 14, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Footprints

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Shelby Hearon
publisher
Knopf
genre
Fiction

We gave it an B

There’s a tradition of setting lyrics to classic jazz instrumentals: Lambert, Hendricks & Ross; Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s verses for Charles Mingus’ ”Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” etc. But the practice known as vocalese still takes chutzpah. On Footprints, the elegant, understated Karrin Allyson wisely enlists vocalese pioneer Jon Hendricks, who reprises his verses to Horace Silver’s ”Strollin’,” and West Coast secret Nancy King, who scats and duets radiantly throughout. So even when Chris Caswell’s lyrics falter, the singers, with assists from pianist Bruce Barth and others, set the words aloft.

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