Leah Kline: Playground (2004)
Leah Kline's debut CD certainly is a Playground of fresh and creative new ideas that just simply add up to a lot of fun for the listener. Someone would have to be hard pressed to not like this recording by the Amsterdam-based Kline and her supporting group of Los Angeles-based jazz musicians. What they have assembled is a collection of new and unique arrangements that provide a fresh take on jazz standards such as "Doodlin,'" "Prelude to a Kiss," "Peel Me a Grape" and pop songs like "Wives and Lovers," "Hernando's Hideaway," "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend," and "Tenderly." Kline also adds one original to the mix with her lyrics on "Call of the Muse," set to music composed by Joost van de Knaap.
One of the fun elements of this recording is Kline's voice. Her presentation possesses a certain bluesy swagger with a Mae West "Why don't you come up and see me some time" attitude. These qualities are most evident on the opening track, an arrangement of Horace Silver's "Doodlin'" with vocalese by Jon Hendricks. Kline negotiates large mouthfuls of lyrics with insouciant aplomb and hipness. The "come hither" part of Kline's musical personality shines most brightly in the arrangement of Cole Porter's "Love For Sale." Pianist John Rangel's Latin-styled arrangement and the somewhat melodramatic introduction show off what must be an exciting stage presence for Kline when she performs live.
Her performance on the Johnny Hodges/Duke Ellington classic "Prelude to a Kiss" turns this romantic ballad on a tangent from Hodges' familiar excruciating ecstasy to more of a lover's sweet and gentle caress, presented lovingly and simply with only Rangel's piano accompanying. Another unique approach is Kline's rendition of "I've Got Rhythm," accompanied only by the rhythm of drummer Lorca Hart. There are also some passages where Kline demonstrates her ability to scat sing when trading fours with drummer Hart.
With all of the jazz singers out and about today, Leah Kline is certainly one worthy of notice. Her debut CD is certainly a playground of great creativity, musicianship, and fun. I look forward to her next recording project.
Track Listing: Doolin', Love for Sale, Wives and Lovers, Give Me the Simple Life, Girls of Summer, In The Dark, Alone Together, Prelude to a Kiss, Hernando's Hideaway, Oh! Look at Me Now!, Call of the Muse, I've Got Rhythm, Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, Peel me a Grape, Tenderly/Midnight Sun, Pure Imagination
Personnel: Leah Kline (vocals), John Rangel (piano), Mike Valerio (bass), Lorca Hart (drums), Derf Reklaw (percussion), Dan Weinstein (trombone and violin), Larry Williams (trumpet)
Record Label: Theatrics Productions