“Why didn’t someone think of this before? …timeless pieces, beautifully rendered… …if you are a seeker of beauty, Harold Land has the answer…” – JazzTimes Magazine
On the Postcards Records album, “Harold Land: A Lazy Afternoon”, esteemed and seasoned hard bop and post-bop vet Harold Land’s tenor saxophone shimmers stirringly over the string orchestrations of Ray Ellis (arranger of Billie Holiday’s “Lady in Satin”), resulting in a celebration of both melody and rhythm that entices listeners with it’s pure musicality, controlled vitality, and lush romanticism.
“Land glides through Ray Ellis’ orchestral charts, rhapsodizing forlorn and alluding to noirish days gone by…” – Billboard Magazine
This album was inspired by Billie Holiday’s penultimate 1958 Columbia Records album, “Lady in Satin”, which was also arranged by Ray Ellis. Rolling Stone Magazine rated it in the Top 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time in 2020.
Holiday contacted Columbia producer Irving Townsend and expressed interest in recording with bandleader Ray Ellis after listening to his album Ellis in Wonderland. Originally, she wanted to do an album with bandleader Nelson Riddle after hearing his arrangements for Frank Sinatra’s albums, but after hearing Ellis’s version of “For All We Know”, she wanted to record with him.
Harold Land and Ray Ellis recreate the mood and spirit of Billie Holiday’s “Lady in Satin”. Recording a number of songs from that album among other romantic standards.
“Land is a fine musician who has not received the fame he deserves.” – Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Most known for his stint in the Clifford Brown – Max Roach Quintet and his collaborations with Bobby Hutcherson, Carl Perkins, Cedar Walton, and Curtis Fuller, Harold Land was known as an uncompromising musical contributor to the evolution of Jazz. Ray Ellis crafted deft string arrangements that showcase Land’s emotion-laden performances for the twelve standards included on this album. Among them are such classics as the title song “Lazy Afternoon”, “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood”, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Bossa Nova classic Wave, and Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight”. Also featuring drummer Billy Higgins, pianist Bill Henderson, and bassist James Leary, the resulting album, “Harold Land: A Lazy Afternoon”, is a fitting example of the late Harold Land’s saxophone eminence and musical apparition.
|1. Lazy Afternoon||Jerome Morass and John Latouche||4:23|
|2. You Don’t Know What Love Is||Don Raye and Gene DePaul||3:45|
|3. In a Sentimental Mood||Duke Ellington||4:25|
|4. Nature Boy||Eden Ahbez||3:47|
|5. You Go To My Head||J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie||4:05|
|6. But Beautiful||Johnny Burke and James Van Heusen||3:06|
|7. Invitation||Bronislau Kaper||4:57|
|8. Stella By Starlight||Victor Young and Ned Washington||2:52|
|9. The End of a Love Affair||Edward C Redding||3:54|
|10. You’ve Changed||Carl Fischer and Bill Carey||3:22|
|11. Wave||Antonio Carlos Jobim||3:19|
|12. ‘Round Midnight||Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams, and Bernie Hanighen||3:44|
Harold Land: Tenor sax
Ray Ellis: String orchestra conductor and arranger
Billy Higgins: Drums
Bill Henderson: Piano
James Leary: Bass
Alan Pasqua: Synths
Produced by: Ralph Simon
Associate Producer: Joe Barbaria
Executive Producer: Sibyl R. Golden
Total Time: 45:36 minutes
On Postcards Records album, “Harold Land: A Lazy Afternoon”, the esteemed and seasoned tenor vet Harold Land and drummer Billy Higgins combine forces with the orchestration of Ray Ellis, who arranged Billie Holiday’s Lady in Satin, to create a recording of jazz drive, tensile strength, and lush romanticism. For the twelve standards included on the disc, Ellis has crafted deft arrangements that showcase Land’s proclivity for emotion-laden performances. The result is a dynamic package that celebrates both melody and rhythm in an atmosphere rich with feeling. For many performers, working with a string section is a long-held dream. The lush backdrop warmly supports an instrumentalist or a singer, setting the stage for emotional, often unforgettable performances. Listen to orchestral albums by such greats as Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Clifford Brown, and Johnny Hodges, and the beauty and feeling that arise from these situations is soon appreciated.
“A Lazy Afternoon” is a stellar contribution to this genre. Here, the consummate tenor saxophone artistry of Harold Land, easily one of jazz’s premier improvisers, meets the sumptuous string orchestrations of Ray Ellis, who is best recalled for Lady in Satin, the 1958 session for Columbia Records for which he wrote gorgeous string backdrops for Holiday.
Harold Land: A Lazy Afternoon features ear-pleasing renditions of such evergreens as “You Go To My Head”, “Invitation”, “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, “Nature Boy”, “In A Sentimental Mood”, “Wave”, and the title track, “Lazy Afternoon”. Land and the string and orchestral palette are accompanied by the ace rhythm team of Billy Higgins (drums), William Henderson (piano), and James Leary (bass).
About Harold Land:
Harold Land (1928-2001), born in Houston and raised in San Diego, moved to Los Angeles in the early ’50s. In 1954, he joined the famed Clifford Brown-Max Roach quintet, with which he toured the United States and recorded several albums. After two years with the ensemble, Land felt the need to be closer to his family in Los Angeles, and so he returned and has resided there ever since.
He soon began to establish himself as one of the most singular and powerful of jazzmen, making albums with bassists Red Mitchell and Curtis Counce and then, in 1958, making his 12” LP debut (he had recorded four selections in 1949 that were released by Savoy). Harold in the Land of Jazz was issued on Contemporary Records, and was followed a year later by The Fox, on HiFi Jazz (available as a Contemporary Records reissue), which many consider his best early recording. He also began performing with Gerald Wilson’s orchestra, and with pianists Hampton Hawes and Carl Perkins, becoming an essential cog in the wheel of Los Angeles jazz. Nonetheless, the saxophonist didn’t really get much exposure outside LA until he formed a quintet with vibist Bobby Hutcherson in the late ’60s. The band recorded for Blue Note.
In the late ’70s and ’80s, Land joined the Timeless All-Stars, which also included Billy Higgins, Bobby Hutcherson, Cedar Walton and Curtis Fuller. Land remains one of the most impressive and deep improvisers in jazz. As is said in the Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, “Land is a fine musician who has not received the fame he deserves.”
Harold Land passed away on July 27th, 2001. All of us at Arkadia and Postcards want to extend our condolences to Harold’s family, friends and fans. He has left a rich legacy of music for all of us.