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JAZZ REVIEW : Hip Harmony by Axidentals

The Axidentals, a six-voice ensemble from the University of Northern Colorado, provided ample evidence Tuesday night at Le Cafe in Sherman Oaks that hip harmonies are not restricted to the urban areas of the country.

Opening with a briskly boppish romp through “A Fine Romance” that featured a brief, improvised scat chorus from baritone Dave Wiske, the group quickly pushed past an early sound system problem and a trace or two of nervousness.

Wisely, the Axidentals then shifted away from standards into a lovely a cappella performance of Jobim’s “If You Ever Come to Me.” A perky version of Annie Ross’s hit, “Twisted,” featuring soprano Marsha Hays, was less effective--in part because the rapid tempo made it almost impossible for Hays to articulate the song’s convoluted lyrics properly.

The Axidentals’ performance peaks came on several unaccompanied pieces during the last half of the program. The best was a spirited dash through a Randy Crenshaw arrangement of Toto’s “Down in Africa,” a number in which the group moved well beyond its collegiate origins into the arena of pure professionalism.

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Other highlights included Nat Cole’s novelty tune, “Have You Got a Penny, Benny,” Bobby McFerrin’s soul-styled chart on “Good Lovin’, " featuring a driving solo from alto Issa Sorensen.


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