Come Together is Hardison’s third album, but it truly marks a new beginning for the wildly talented singer. Building on the jazz interpretations of Choices (2006) and the inspirational bent of Everyday Gifts (2008), this long-awaited recording finds Hardison using her ineffable presence to tie together a wonderfully diverse selection of tunes with a first-class group of musicians.
“I was really excited to be able to mix jazz standards with other songs,” Hardison says. “Instead of trying to choose songs from a particular genre, I chose songs that have a melody or meaning that tell a story.”
With ease, Hardison erases the boundaries between jazz, funk, and soul, re-inventing well-loved tunes including “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” “Sunny,” and “Tomorrow.” She infuses The Beatles’ “Come Together” with rhythms that would be at home in New Orleans, and you can hardly imagine anything better than her version of the jazz standard “Better Than Anything.”
When Hardison smolderingly implores you to “Unchain My Heart,” you’ll gladly comply, if only because you sense her affection for the 1964 Ray Charles version of the song. “Ray Charles is a huge influence for me,” she enthuses. “He managed to do country, R&B, whatever – and he always understood the song and made it his own.”
What emanates from Hardison is not merely an admixture of those who came before. It’s everything she’s done, heard, seen and felt, plus a huge helping of musicianship, all drawn into her very own musical time machine. The result? An irresistibly distinct take on life and the living of it —from raucous to somber, gleeful to introspective. And there’s joy. Always joy.
David Joyner - piano & organ
Osama Afifi - bass
Jeff Busch - drums & percussion (and cover art)
Brad Schrandt - flute & sax