Easton, PA, which sits at the fork of the Leigh and Delaware Rivers is not only the home of Lafayette College and the Crayola crayon factory, but is the site for one of jazz music's most prolific and multi talented pianists of our time, David Leonhardt. in addition to "regular jazz albums, he has released CDs devoted solely to dancers...a kind of music minus one for tap dancing...original compositions and interpretations of some of the most compelling entries from the Great American Popular Songbook. He has worked regularly with some of jazz top stars such as David "Fathead" Newman and Michelle Hendricks. Now he has turned his attention to opening up the joys of jazz to the younger set. Be assured, this is not one of those albums solely limited to children's songs rearranged with a jazz theme. Rather they are ditties whose melodies and rhythms should be attractive to the younger than voting age members of the population. Take "Are You Sleeping?" aka "Freres Jacques", where Leonhardt's long time vocalist companion, Nancy Reed, introduces the joys of scat which Larry McKenna backs wth his Paul Desmond light as a feather sax. While the album provides several opportunities, such as "When You Wish Upon a Star", for the younger set to be exposed to improvisation and other important jazz techniques, it's done so with the recognition that this may be the first time the group may have been deliberately exposed to jazz. So the presentations are not overdone by showing the highly technical skills of the performers. Leonhardt and his group manage to make the point without losing contact with their audience. This is apparent on "Flintstones", where McKenna's sax engages hard bop without blowing the kids away. By the way, adult listeners with find themselves attracted to such tunes as Reed's vocal working of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and Bobby Troup's "Route 66", a tune people never seem to get tired hearing. In sum, Leonhardt and friends expose the heart and soul of jazz without turning it into an anatomy lesson. Recommended.
www.davidleonhardt.com is where you can find more about the musically peripatetic David Leonhardt and his various projects.
Personnel: David Leonhardt - Piano/Leader; Nancy Reed - Vocals; Taro Okamoto -
Drums; Larry McKenna - Saxophone; Tony Marino - Bass