On November 11 and 12, 2005 drummer Les DeMerle and his band recorded a two-session live performance at The Jazz Corner in Hilton Head, South Carolina, producing his fourth and fifth recordings, Cookin' at the Corner, Volume One and Volume Two for Origin Records. Recording a total of thirty songs, Volume Two represents the second half of this project.
As with the first session, this follow-up release features vocalist and wife, Bonnie Eisele, with whom DeMerle has recorded nine previous albums. He also shares the stage with bassist Ricky Ravelo, who has played with DeMerle since 1991, and rounds out the core trio with the phenomenal pianist Mike Levine, a member of the band since the turn of the decade.
The electricity captured on the first night certainly transfers here, as the music swings and gyrates to the up-tempo nature of the album's fifteen standards . The music leads off with a lively instrumental take of Duke Ellington's "In A Mellow Tone, where each member takes a turn with inspiring solo performances. DeMerle provides his first of several vocals on the second song, the Gershwin standard "Our Love Is Here To Stay.
DeMerle and his trio really cook on "Work Song, where the drummer does some scatting as Levine peels off a power performance on the keys for one swinging number. After performing another fine instrumental tune with Juan Tizol's "Caravan, DeMerle introduces Eisele for her first appearance, singing the bouncy "I'm Beginning To See The Light. This is followed by a wonderful rendition of "S' Wonderful.
The pace softens a bit on the Alter Delange classic, "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? sung to the heart by the Eisele.. She also brightens up the Corner with the lyrics of "Let's Fall In Love, and scats the melody line of Charlie Parker's re-interpretation of the song "Ornithology on "How High The Moon, accompanied by blazing performances from both DeMerle and Levine.
With lyrics in French, Eisele delivers one of the set's most enchanting performances on "Autumn Leaves/Les Feuilles Mortes. The concert rounds out with more French lyrics on "Black Orpheus/Manha De Carnaval and Lester Young's very hip, "Jumpin' With Symphony Sid, where DeMerle delivers another exciting drum roll to finish another fiery session of great music.
Volume One was thoroughly enjoyable, and Cookin' at the Corner, Volume Two is a continuation of that first session, delivering exciting vocals from Eisele and incredible instrumentals from DeMerle and his trio. The only negative aspect is that there will be no volume three to look forward to.
Personnel: Les DeMerle: drums, vocals; Bonnie Eisele: vocals, percussion; Mike Levine: piano; Ricky Ravelo: bass.