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When a Smile Overcomes a Frown by Luqman Hamza

Luqman Hamza (pronounced Luke-mahn Hahm-zuh) is a Kansas City treasure and a master of the art of jazz ballads. His first recording ("When You Surrender") for Decca was cut at the age of 19 and managed to hit the charts. The singer moved on to St. Louis and later Chicago where he recorded for the Argo label.

The 1970s found Luqman back home in Kansas City where he performed at the city’s finest venues. In 1989, a recording titled "The Clear Sounds of Kansas City Jazz" was issued highlighting some of the community’s top artists. Hamza was included.

As most fans are aware, Kaycee, has been a home base to an endless list of performers including Earl Hines, Count Basie, Lester Young, Jay McShann, Mary Lou Williams, Harlan Leonard and Charlie Parker.

Luqman Hamza is noted for his enormous repertoire, a product of 50 years in music. He is featured here with a fine collection of songs including a recreation of his first hit, When You Surrender. Luqman’s voice and piano don’t sound like King Cole but his delivery imparts the magical magnetism that Nat possessed. Hamza is an absolute delight and brightens every tune he touches. As a listener, I instinctively felt that the singer smiled during the entire session. This is a loose and happy performance in the company of some of the finest players in the K.C. and St. Louis area.. The band is basically the Willie Akins Quintet with Luqman and Simon Rowe alternating on piano. Akins is wonderful on tenor sax as he weaves in, out and around the singer’s inspired groove.

Catalyst Productions is to be commended for their efforts in bringing forward some bright lights that would otherwise remain unheard by many of us. Top marks are awarded to this fine CD.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Luqman Hamza
  • CD Title: When a Smile Overcomes a Frown
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2000
  • Record Label: Catalyst Productions
  • Musicians: Luqman Hamza (vocals, piano 1,5,8,11), Simon Rowe (piano 2,3,4,6,7,9,10), Willie Akins (tenor sax), Will Matthews (guitar), Willem von Hombracht (bass), Montez Coleman (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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