- Hep Records, 2007
Led by cellist and arranger Alan Shulman (who spent his final years in Hudson), the septet also features two violins, guitar, bass, viola, and, yes, upright harp played by virtuoso Laura Newell. It’s Newell (the spiritual godmother of Accord avant-harpist Elizabeth Panzer, perhaps?) who is the Friends’ centerpiece and key selling point; check her fleet plucking and waterfall-like glissandos on Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” or the cheeky, retitled swing adaptations of themes by Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert, et al. (The wonderfully named “Shoot the Schubert to Me Hubert” retools the composer’s music from the ballet “Rosamunde.”) Guest appearances by clarinet legend Buster Bailey will pique the interest of early jazz buffs, but the Friends’ charming, twinkling, dreamlike sound will put a spring in anyone’s step. Liner notes by Alan Shulman’s son, Jay Shulman, shed further light on this forgotten slice of jazz history. www.hepjazz.com.