Leanne Weatherly: Go and Find (2009)
Go and Find is appropriately named by its chanteuse, Leanne Weatherly. The artist is indeed a find. She has rare and complete mastery over her voice that lopes like a gazelle. She can make it hover in somber depths and soar joyful and unfettered into a stratospheric orbit, creating something between goose bumps on the back of the neck and unexpected tingles on scalp and back. The wondrous vocal expeditions of Helen Merrillas she made music with Gil Evanscome to mind.
The music on this record appears to be a carefully selected repertoire. It's not a brash I-can-sing-anything-I-put-my-mind-to production. Nevertheless, the fact that it presents some standards, a few well-chosen contemporary pop songs, a classic Duke Ellington chart and some well-written ballads by the songstress herself, is also proof that Weatherly is a mature musician; someone who can turn on a dime and "wow" with just one note. She swings with absolute abandon and is fully in control of the tempi that the songs demand. Her intonation is bell-like and her phrasing rustic, but so sweet that it is possible to swoon at a moment's notice. "Oo So Cool" is one such track, that requires a generous dose of smelling salts to stay conscious and enraptured throughout.
Weatherly's treatment of old reliables such as "Caravan," "God Bless the Child" and "The Water is Wide" is most unusual and a rather bold step in recasting the familiar. On the former, gone is the Middle Eastern inflection in the rhythm that Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol envisioned. Instead there's a credible seemingly swaggering group of Afro-Cuban dancers' hip swishing and sashaying their way on a dance-floor, especially through the languid, brassy trombone solo by Wayne Wallace and Noel Catura's roaring tenor sax. Weatherly also takes some melodic risks here and is so in command of the changes that she is able to pull this off. On the Billie Holiday/Arthur Herzog classic, Weatherly "funks-up" the track to almost slow-drag tempo and turns pathos into decidedly brighter, more positive modes. Jeff Rzepiela wrenches the sadness out of his alto, vividly recalling a Johnny Hodges' wail.
"The Water is Wide" is a surprise too. Weatherly uses her voice to drag her breath and brush end-phrases in a sandpaper-like way, she stretches some end-vowels and as such creates a bluesy twist to the lyrics. This is truly clever and memorable. Dan Fryer's velvet tenor turns "Songbird" into something so sensuous that Christine McVie may surely never have imagined her chart this way. More modern tracks such as "Midnight in the Oasis," "Songbird" and the Gospel-inflected "True Colors" owe much to masterful arrangements by Tom Tomasello, who is a truly gifted arranger.
With Go and Find Leanne Weatherly puts her stamp firmly on the art of vocal music in an unassuming way and she does so by hitting perfect pitch note after note time and again.
Track Listing: Caravan; Simple Things; Go and Find; Oo So Cool; Midnight at the Oasis; God Bless the Child; Chocolate and Roses; Songbird; Sunny Skies; The Water is Wide; True Colors; Dream a Little Dream.
Personnel: Leanne Weatherly: vocals, background vocals (10, 11); Tom Tomasello: piano (1-5, 7-11), Rhodes (6), synthesizer (2), "Tru" guitar (2, 9), guitar (11), bass (12), drums (3 - 5, 7, 8, 11), percussion (2), strings (3-5, 7-9, 11); Leah Carl: additional strings (3, 7); Pat Smith: guitar (12); Hristo Vitchev: guitar (6); Jeannine O'Neal: guitar (1, 5); Wayne Wallace: trombone (1, 5, 7); Mary Wehner: trombone (2); Marty Wehner: trombone (9); Nick Phillips: trumpet (1, 2, 5, 9), flugelhorn (7); Noel Catura: tenor saxophone (1, 5, 6); Melecio Magdaluyo: tenor saxophone (2, 9), alto saxophone (9, 10), baritone saxophones (9); Jeff Rzepiela: alto saxophone (6, 11, 12), flute(8); Bill Bosch: bass (1, 3 - 6, 8); Kevin T. White: bass (2, 9, 10); Scott Rabino: drums (9, 10); Frank Cavazos: drums (6); Dan Fryer: vocals (8), background vocals (9); Irene Trapp: background vocals (11); Melinda Rapazinni: background vocals (11); Caitlin Monteverdi: background vocals (11); Laila Smith: background vocals (11); Ashley Mauro: background vocals (11).
Record Label: Self Produced