Family and FriendsMichael Hanna
Family and Friends
Rahanna Music Inc., Rmi 902

Michael Hanna, vocals; Sir Roland Hanna, piano; Atsundo Aikawa, Jon Burr, Paul West, Stafford James, bass; Eddie Locke, Louis Nash, drums; Todd Bayshore, saxophone; Cecil Bridgewater, trumpet; Stan Young, guitar

Unlike those other royals, Sir Roland Hanna's family (sons Christopher and Michael and wife Ramona) are a happy, productive, and musical lot. On this CD, one of two premier issues of the new Sir Roland Hanna Presents series, Roland plays and composes, Ramona writes lyrics, Michael sings, and Christopher produces.

Michael is the standout here, a rich caramel-colored tenor whose particular genius is his ability to bring out the meaning of lyric through a thoughtful approach, unusual tempos, and crisp diction. Knows how to scat, too, as the opener, "That's All," makes immediately clear.

His serene take on "Yesterdays,"(often played at a brisk up-tempo these days) allows you time to really appreciate the lyric. And watch out for some very nice guitar work by Stan Young here.

The selections are a careful balance of originals by Roland and lyrics by Ramona ("Synchronicity," "IWill Love Again") followed by standards such as "Lush Life"and "Almost like Being in Love" to give you your bearings.

Throughout, Sir Roland's piano is a tower of harmonic strength and musical inventiveness. His original, "Seasons," begins with the opening chords of "Rhapsody in Blue"and then morphs into a new melody. The closer, a duet by Sir Roland and Michael on Sir Roland's own "Hold My Hand," is a paean to a growing child's dependence on his on his parent for guidance in the ways of the world, which is a fitting way to end this musical collaboration of family and friends.

by Nina J. Hodgson

Family and Friends is available through the Jazz Now Direct CD Store.