Carolyn Leonhart and Wayne Escoffery: If Dreams Come True (2007)
This particular musical partnership works because both in live performance and on the CD Escoffery and Leonhart occupy discrete spaces, the two never competing for the listeners' attention. Leonhart fronted the Smoke gig, but shared the playing time equally with Escoffery, also according each band memberKevin Hays (piano), Ugonna Okegwo (bass) and Billy Drummond (drums)ample attention, especially on Wayne Shorter's "Oriental Folk Song," which featured Escoffery's expansive soloing and Leonhart's captivating vocalese. The team's set list also held "I'm In The Mood For Love in a moderate 6/8 and the Escoffery/Leonhart composition "Earth Calling," a plea for greater environmental mindfulness.
Leonhart is an accomplished vocalist even outside of jazz, having worked extensively as a backup singer for Steely Dan. She borrows heavily from R&B for her phrasing and licks and this stylistic choice gives her vocals a contemporary sound that might aggrieve the jazz puristsbut they need only turn to Escoffery, with his accomplished bebop riffing and spirited improvs, for the more traditional take on their material. And no worries, there is enough room for both here.
Two originals on the CD underscore the different personae of these two artists: "Free To Love," a moody, atonal, musical freefall by Leonhart and her Grammy-winning brother Michael, contrasts with the Escoffery piece, "Not Without You," a structured, rhythmically complicated bop number that revolves around one melodic phrase. Throughout, providing Leonhart and Escoffery with solid backing on every tune no matter what its orientation, is a keen rhythm section featuring pianist Toru Dodo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and either Jason Brown or Carl Allen on drums.
Track Listing: If Dreams Come True; Nothing Left to Say; Never Too Soon; Not Without You; Angel Face; Key Largo; Free to Love; Desert Moonlight; Earth Calling.
Personnel: Carolyn Leonhart: vocals; Wayne Escoffery: tenor and soprano sax; Toru Dodo: piano; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Jason Brown: drums (1, 2, 4, 9); Carl Allen: drums (3, 5, 6, 8).
Record Label: nagel heyer records