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Jazz Reviews : L.A. Jazz Choir Swings at Vine St. Bar & Grill

February 05, 1988|A. JAMES LISKA

The L.A. Jazz Choir, a longtime staple of the local jazz diet, continued Wednesday night at the Vine St. Bar & Grill to underestimate its own worth.

The choir, under the capable musical direction of Jerry Eskelin, is a very talented group of 12 young singers that seems unable to rid itself of the curse of the so-called swing era. While the group does justice to "Sing Sing Sing" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo," one wonders if those tired old chestnuts deserve justice.

If the choir weren't so capable, this might not be a problem. But after hearing the group be so astonishingly brilliant on Milcho Leviev's "Don's Song" (an a cappella tribute to band leader Don Ellis) or Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," and so predictable on "Sweet Georgia Brown" or "Sunny," one feels shortchanged.

Of course, the treatment of any tune makes the biggest statement. The choir's rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia," was nothing short of brilliant, as was the lilting ballad "As Times Goes By." Both were arranged by Mark Davidson, who also contributed the arrangements of the Eurythmics' tune.

The choir benefited greatly from the accompaniment of pianist Dwight Elrich, drummer Chuck Flores and bassist John Patitucci, whose deft solos provided great inspiration.

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