With This Voice (2016)

Harbach, Davis, Porter, Burke, Mercer, Ellington- Russel, Rodgers, Cotrill, Elliott, Evans, Wood, Bricusse, Wells,

Luqman Hamza

If this isn’t it, it will have to do until the real thing comes along. That’s the lyric but it doesn’t hold here. Luqman Hamza is the real thing. If he isn’t“the last of the balladeers”as he bills himself, he’s one of the treasured few remaining who“went to school on”Nat King Cole, Charles Brown and Billy Eckstine as a teen. But Luqman, formerly known as Larry Cummings, was never a copyist. He wrapped his clear tenor voice in a suave and romantic persona all his own (set off by his movements on the ivories). He forged his own path as a singer of love songs. Fifty years later, he is still miraculously fresh and at the top of his powers, living in his native Kansas City, and very much in love.
Sit with Luqman Hamza for a few minutes and he’ll share with you his intriguing world of jazz ballads and love songs. The music of his world revealed to him by osmosis living in Kansas City during its musical heyday. Luqman grew up in the midst of Kansas City’s 18th and Vine jazz night club district, so it’s no wonder young Luqman watched, and listened to many local to national music luminaries.

* NativeDSD makes this recording available for the first time as a DSD Download to a wider audience, outside the US and Canada.

* NativeDSD exclusively offers this recording as DSD 128 and DSD 256 Downloads (see Tech Specs for more info).

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Luqman Hamza

Luqman Hamza (formerly known as Larry Cummings) grew up in Kansas City’s fabled 18th and Vine district. “Charlie Parker lived two blocks from our house” and there were at least 50 clubs within a six-block area. “I was surrounded by music,” Hamza said, “it was part of my living room.” As a child, Hamza was getting pennies and nickels for singing near his boyhood home. From age eleven until he was seventeen, Luqman studied voice and piano under the tutelage of the Reverend John S. Williams, a native of Jamaica. Williams, a renowned minister and choir director at the Bethel Church and a music teacher at the famed Lincoln High School, is credited with educating many of Kansas City’s finest musicians. At the age of 12 Hamza, along with life-long friend Sonny Kenner, Lucky Wesley and various other artists, formed a group known as the Four Steps and later the Five Aces. This group would play several clubs in the 18th and Vine district including Scott’s Theater and the Chez Paris. In 1948 they won a statewide high school talent contest, which allowed them to play on the Bob Hope show at Municipal Auditorium Music Hall. They would also land a live radio broadcast on KIMO every Sunday for several weeks. He co-wrote When You Surrender with Ted Battagila when he was 19. This record was his first chart hitting release on Decca/Damon label. Hamza sat in for Bob Wilson, the piano player at Bill Vaughn’s Flamingo on 39th and Main, when Charlie Parker was in town. Charlie Parker sat in on the gig with him, and at the age of 21 was able to sit in at the Boulevard Room with Miles Davis. “To me, Miles always sounded like he was singing through his horn.” In 1954 Hamza would venture out of Kansas City to build his growing career. He would play in St. Louis at the Glass Bar and The Toast of the Town. Shortly after, Luqman went to Chicago. “I found the very essence of being in Chicago musical – everything from the melodic sound of the EL to the radio programs, clubs and musicians.” In the late 1950s Hamza thrived while the jazz scene was at its peak. His first performance in Chicago was at the Black Orchid in 1959. He also performed at the Playboy and numerous clubs on Rush Street. “For me, being able to sing and play and doing my own accompaniment, I was always able to find work.” He lived and “gigged” in Chicago for over a decade. “Music is very religious,” said Hamza, who became a Muslim in the mid 60’s. “The Church was like the black person’s college.” Having been raised in a Christian household, Luqman began to hear of Islam while in Chicago. In those days the musicians were responsible for moving the religion around the country. Up until that point Luqman had performed under the name Larry Cummings; it was later that he adopted the name Luqman Hamza. A man named Luqman is mentioned in the Quran as the wise man, and Hamzah is the name of the Prophet Mohammad’s uncle. “God gave me Luqman Hamza”, Luqman would proclaim. “I am responsible for that name.” Hamza would continue to perform and honor his name and his way of life across the country. 1971 marked a return to his roots in Kansas City. Hamza returned to raise his family in his own hometown. His storied music career would continue to flourish as he was spotlighted as a featured performer at Kansas City’s Playboy Club until its closing. Luqman continued to play clubs in and around Kansas City until his move to his birthplace, St. Louis Missouri, in 1992. He hung his hat in St. Louis for five years before returning to Kansas City in 1997. In 2000, at the age of 69, Hamza would record 2 nationally distributed CD’s, With this Voice and When a Smile Overtakes a Frown. Both received stellar reviews. One key difference between the albums is that on With This Voice Hamza himself performed the vocals and the played the piano, whereas Simon Rowe provides the piano accompaniment on Smile. On October 11th, 2008 Luqman Hamza was honored with the American Jazz Museum Lifetime Achievement Award. Hamza’s work with the Inkspots and the Five Aces was highlighted. The American Jazz Museum was established in 1997 and has honored many great jazz legends such as the late Ahmad Alaadeen (1934-2010) among others. Alaadeen, who also received the Lifetime Achievement Award, was not only Hamza’s lifelong friend but also Luqman was Alaadeen’s introduction into the Jazz circle. Hamza’s life came full circle when he found himself mentoring and tutoring students at his alma mater, Lincoln High School. He still performs regularly, oftentimes accompanied by his wife Raynola. Luqman Hamza, like his foster father, is a walking, talking history lesson and enjoys sharing his memories with friends and family. “I love music, and it doesn’t matter to me about being no star.” Hamza commented. “I’m blessed to be at my age and be able to sing, play and make people enjoy, that makes you rich.”

photo: from booklet 'With This Voice'

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With This Voice (2016)

Harbach, Davis, Porter, Burke, Mercer, Ellington- Russel, Rodgers, Cotrill, Elliott, Evans, Wood, Bricusse, Wells,

Luqman Hamza

    Positive Feedback

While I have the floor, I wanted to mention that I have finally been able to hear the Groove Note release of Luqman Hamza — With This Voice, which was released some time ago. This is an absolutely stunning recording of a phenomenal, unique jazz balladeer. Run, don’t walk, to wherever you can buy this recording. It’s an instant classic that has my highest recommendation.

Dave Glackin[read full review]

    JazzTimes

Hearing this resplendent set of 13 romantic standards, you’ll wonder why 68-year-old Kansas City singer-pianist Luqman Hamza (formerly known as Larry Cummings) has gone largely unheralded in spite of a smooth-tenor vocal style that is better than those of his major inspirations, Nat King Cole, Charles Brown and Billy Eckstine. Hamza’s luscious voice gives new meaning to classics such as “My One and Only Love,” “Never Let Me Go,” “Blue Moon,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Laura” and other American songbook treasures. Sonny Kenner (guitar), Kim Park (alto sax, flute), Tyrone Clark (bass) and Tommy Ruskin (drums) provide sensitive backing and the whole team sparkles, especially Park’s alto-sax improvisations and Kenner’s solos and fills. Hamza’s career began in the mid-1940s with The Five Aces, a vocal harmony group he formed with his buddies, before he went left to lead and record with his trio in the 1950s. He relocated in the late ’50s to Chicago and made several recordings with Chess Records’ jazz division, Argo. Hamza returned in 1971 to K.C. where he’s worked steadily until he reemerged in the 1990s through a series of high-profile engagements. Hamza’s deserving of widest exposure. He’s a veteran whose perfect pitch, passionate delivery, precise phrasing, warbling vibrato and sophisticated sense of swing make this a pleasurable album you’ll want to play over and over.

Nancy Ann Lee[read full review]

With This Voice (2016)

Harbach, Davis, Porter, Burke, Mercer, Ellington- Russel, Rodgers, Cotrill, Elliott, Evans, Wood, Bricusse, Wells,

Luqman Hamza

Analog Recording Equipment: Studer A-80 2 track
Cables: AudioQuest
Digital Converters: Sony
Mastering Engineer: Bernie Grundman
Mastering Room: DSD 128 and DSD 256 Download Files Created by Tom Caulfield at the NativeDSD Mastering Lab, Marshfield, MA
Microphones: Llomo 919A-19, Neumann M-149, U-47, TLM-70, KM-84, AKG "The Tube", RCA 44, Shure KSM 32, Shure SM 57
Notes:
We are pleased to announce the availability of Groove Note releases in DSD 128 and DSD 256, in addition to the original DSD 64 releases. These higher bit rate DSD 128 and DSD 256 releases are all pure DSD created by NativeDSD Mastering Engineer Tom Caulfield.

They are not up samplings, for there are no PCM or DXD conversions involved in their production. They are re-modulations of the original DSD 64 encoding modulation that produced the DSD 64 releases. The sonic advantage to these new Stereo and Multichannel DSD 128 and DSD 256 releases, as with all higher DSD bit rate releases, is the wider frequency passband prior to the onset of modulation noise.This results in the listener’s DAC using gentler and more phase linear filters for playback of the music.
Producer: Joe Harley
Recording Engineer: Michael C. Ross
Recording location: Airborne Audio Productions, Kansas City, Mo.
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD

This album was recorded to Analog tape. It was then transferred to the DSD bit rate indicated above.

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GRV1007: With This Voice
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Tracks.
1.
Born To Be Blue
Wells,
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2.
Feeling Good
Bricusse
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3.
My One And Only Love
Wood
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4.
Never Let Me Go
Evans
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Weaver Of Dreams
Elliott
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Until The Real Thing Comes Along
Cotrill
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Blue Moon
Rodgers
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My Funny Valentine
Rodgers
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Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Ellington- Russel
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Laura
Mercer
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What Does It Take
Burke
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12.
Just One Of Those Things
Porter
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With These Hands
Davis
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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Harbach
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