Bye Bye Blackbird is the first all-standards album by singer/songwriter Kevyn Lettau. Born in Germany but immigrating to the United States when she was fourteen, Lettau has an appealing surpassingly clear voice. The eleven performances on the disc were arranged by Dori Caymmi and often feature subtle Brazilian flavors that help give a sprightly feel to the album.
Those Brazilian influences pop up on a smooth take of "I Concentrate On You that features some tasteful, unobtrusive work on the Fender Rhodes by Russell Ferrante. The string arrangement artfully frames Lettau's vocals, and the great Paulhino Da Costa provides some nicely percolating percussion. On "It's Delovely, a duet for voice and bass, Jerry Watts, Jr.'s low murmuring compliments Lettau's bell-like tone nicely, offering a fine change of pace from the fuller band arrangements. "Sophisticated Lady, with backing solely by Caymmi on acoustic guitar, is similarly successful, yielding one of Lettau's loveliest efforts. A small point: although the performance is fine, I wish that a more venerable standard had been chosen in place of Joe Raposo's "Being Green. It simply doesn't measure up to the treasures that surround it.
Bye Bye Blackbird is a fine, tasteful effort from an artist with undeniable gifts. The arrangements and support from the band are sympathetic and sophisticated, providing a sturdy canvas for Lettau to work on.
Track Listing: I've Got You Under My Skin; Bye Bye Blackbird; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Love You Madly; It Amazes Me; I Concentrate On You; It's Delovely; Being Green; Let's Fall In Love; Gone With The Wind; Sophisticated Lady
Personnel: Kevyn Lettau: vocal; Dori Caymmi: acoustic guitar; Russell Ferrante: piano, electric piano;
Jerry Watts, Jr.: electric bass; Mike Shapiro: drums; Paulinho da Costa: percussion; Larry
Goldings: melodica on "Being Green;" Gina Kronstadt: concertmaster, violin; Peter Kent,
Armen Garabedian, Berj Garabedian, Kathleen Robertson, Vladimir Polimatidi, Norm
Hughs, Shari Zippert, Pam Gates, Adriana Zoppo, Cameron Patrick, Kristen Fife: violin; Bob
Becker, Miriam Meyer, Novi Novog, Lynn Grants: viola; Larry Corbett, Stafanie Fife, Maurice
Grants, Rudolph Stein: cello.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.