The New York Sun Weekend Edition, January 9-11, 2004
by Will Friedwald
Reprinted by author's permission


Jackie Paris, who played a single sold-our show at the Triad Theatre on West 72nd Street last Tuesday, is a genuine living legend of jazz singing, a bebop and ballad specialist who was the only vocalist to collaborate extensively with Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus. I own all of Mr. Paris’s albums and have been to virtually every appearance he’s made in New York during the last 20 years. So it means something when I say I’ve never heard him sound as good as he did this Tuesday. Mr. Paris started swinging, but was on the flat side until he warmed up. Then he displayed the familiar warm vibrato we remember from albums such as “Skylark” and “The Song Is Paris” (virtually none of which are available on CD, sadly). The set reached a crescendo when Mr. Paris instructed his rhythm section, led by pianist Armen Donelian, to lay out while he accompanied himself for several numbers on guitar, in the fashion of this most recent (and recommended) album, “The Intimate Jackie Paris” (Hudson 1001). Mr. Paris caught me off guard with “The Sunshine of Your Smile,” a 1915 specialty of the antediluvian tenor John McCormack, later updated by Frank Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey. Then he stopped the show with “’Tis Autumn,” a marvelously evocative song by Henry Nemo, a legendary character of the swing era. Mr. Paris started with just his guitar and voice in a rubato pattern, but switched over to the full trio as he kicked into tempo. It was a marvelous piece of musical showmanship. Jackie Paris is as chronically neglected as the late Johnny Hartman ever was; I hope he won’t have to wait for posthumous appreciation.


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