Maurice is, in reality, the noted dancer, choreographer and director Maurice Hines. Beginning as a tap dancer as a child, it wasn't long before Maurice was dancing with his famed brother Greg and opening for Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland. Their father joined the act on drums and the trio appeared with Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton and Sammy Davis Jr. Maurice went on to playing the role of Nathan Detroit in the 1973 National Touring Company of "Guys and Dolls". Maurice appears here with two all-star jazz combos in sessions from March 1989 and April 2000.
The singer is really returning to his first love and is a remarkable jazz performer. In the midst of great jazz veterans Hines shows a fabulous sense of timing, swing and good taste. A stable of America's greatest writers including Frank Loesser, Richard Rodgers, Harry Warren, Vernon Duke, Gus Kahn and Isham Jones provided the carefully chosen material for the two sessions. One of my personal favorites appears in the form of Johnny Burke & Jimmy Van Heusen's "But Beautiful" from 1947, a period that produced very few noteworthy songs.
Jazz buffs will be delighted at the appearance of such luminaries as Frank Wess, Joe Wilder, and Bob Cranshaw. Drummer Sherrie Maricle, leader of "Five Play" and the "Diva" big band is one of my favorite players and is a welcome addition to this CD. However, apart from Maurice Hines himself, the ultimate joy on this album is the presence of pianist / arranger Frank Owens. Any jazz singer is indeed privileged to have Frank's faultless accompaniment behind them. In addition to being a great accompanist, Owens is a wonderful soloist in his own right.
Maurice Hines has done an admirable job on this debut recording. Don't miss the beautiful rendition of "You've Changed" with backing by Frank Wess. This record will rest on my shelf of favorites.