Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and bassist/vocalist Jay Leonhart went into the recording studio and pulled off a plum with This Rhythm On My Mind. Using original material written by both, as well as two jazz standards, the duo successfully blended their individual skills and similar senses of humor.
There are many magic moments. For example, Gordon's vocal á la Louis Armstrong on the title track or Leonhart doing his own lyric to Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance with some good tenor sax work by Wayne Escoffery. "Mood Indigo is a track where Leonhart's singing with his bass and Gordon's trombone solo would have certainly pleased Ellington. "Lester Leaps In is another gem which features a sinuous tenor sax solo by Harry Allen and a section with Leonhart and Gordon singing their parts instead of playing them.
The duo has voices that work well together, the former with gravel and the latter with a smoother quality. Gordon plays tuba and a didgeridoo on some of the tracks, but it is his trombone playing, with its conversational approach and sometimes exquisite phrasing that make the album. Leonhart displays a remarkable ability to sing or scat the notes at the same time as playing them on the bass.
This is a work that lends itself to repeated listens, the duo having a good time and communicating that good time to listeners.
At a recent concert at Symphony Space featuring an array of artists doing jazz treatments of Broadway hit songs, Gordon and Leonhart performed a version of "Surrey With The Fringe On Top which would have fit nicely on the album. At one point, Leonhart vocally imitated a trombone solo while Gordon sang the bass accompaniment. Their enjoyment was contagious and delighted the audience. This dynamic duo is not only fun to hear but also fun to watch.
Track Listing: Rhythm On My Mind; Problem; I Want My Blooz Back; Mr. Leonhart, Mr. Gordon; Mood Indigo; Toast My Bread; Eddie Harris (Freedom Jazz Dance); Missin RB Blues; Lester Leaps In; All Alone; Little Henry; Lucky Day; Home For Supper.
Personnel: Wycliffe Gordon: vocals, trombone, tuba, didgeridoo; Jay Leonhart: bass and vocals; Wayne Escoffrey: tenor sax (7); Harry Allen: tenor sax (9); Jim Saporito: percussion (11).