How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Carolyn Leonhart sits astride the jazz and pop worlds, allowing both to inform her singing and repertoire. The daughter of bassist Jay Leonhart and a backup singer for the reunited Steely Dan, Leonhart inflects her jazz singing with an unmistakable dose of soul and R&B, not unlike Chaka Khan or even Rickie Lee Jones. Pianist Rob Bargad is Leonhart’s main collaborator on this album, contributing five compositions, including the lush ballad "Yesterday’s a Dream" and a borderline-corny but charming vocal duo with Leonhart on "Steal the Moon," a good candidate for radio play. Leonhart even hands two tracks over entirely to Bargad: the Vince Guaraldi-like piano trio feature "Juju Knows" and a bluesy, smart-alecky vocal tribute to a child titled "Little Man."
Leonhart is bright-toned and sultry on the standards "Nature Boy," "I’ve Grown Accustomed to His [Her] Face," and "Moonglow," the last an oh-so-hip duo between her and father Leonhart on the bass. She struts her stuff sassily on "Sunday Kind of Love," Bargad’s "All Because of You," and Mose Allison’s "It Didn’t Turn Out That Way." Bargad’s solid post-bop piano work anchors every track. Jimmy Cobb and Billy Drummond share drumming duties, Daniel Sadownick weighs in with perfect percussion flourishes, and David Gilmore guests on acoustic guitar for the title track.
As might be expected from a singer with such diverse influences, Leonhart walks a fine line between telling a coherent story and presenting a musical patchwork. But her voice is polished and distinctive, and her band cooks—which invariably makes Steal the Moon a fun listen.