All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

309

Carolyn Leonhart and Wayne Escoffery: If Dreams Come True

Suzanne Lorge By

Sign in to view read count
Singer Carolyn Leonhart and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, a couple both on and off the bandstand, completed a smooth run at New York's Smoke the weekend of Valentine's Day 2008, highlighting the title cut from If Dreams Come True along with some well-written originals and some intelligently reworked standards. Theirs is a sweetly romantic tale: The couple met at Smoke on Feb. 14th six years ago, married in 2004 and are expecting their first child this year. The romantic backstory aside, this is a rare partnering—an informed collaboration between a voice and a saxophone—and a tricky one to pull off, given that each is a soloist.

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 member—Kevin 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 purists—but 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).

Title: If Dreams Come True | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Nagel Heyer Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Tides of Yesterday

Tides of Yesterday

Savant Records
2010

buy
If Dreams Come True

If Dreams Come True

Nagel Heyer Records
2008

buy
If Dreams Come True

If Dreams Come True

Nagel Heyer Records
2007

buy
New 8th Day

New 8th Day

Sunnyside Records
2005

buy
Steal The Moon

Steal The Moon

Sunnyside Records
2000

buy

Related Articles

Read 1538 CD/LP/Track Review
1538
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Love Wins CD/LP/Track Review
Love Wins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 19, 2018
Read 1538 CD/LP/Track Review
1538
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Mutt Slang CD/LP/Track Review
Mutt Slang
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Prisma CD/LP/Track Review
Prisma
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Jazz Tango CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz Tango
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read "Carpe Diem" CD/LP/Track Review Carpe Diem
by Don Phipps
Published: March 19, 2018
Read "Heptagon" CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read "Storm" CD/LP/Track Review Storm
by Jim Olin
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Love + Time + Divination" CD/LP/Track Review Love + Time + Divination
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "The Last Sense To Leave Us – A Tribute To Pauline Oliveros" CD/LP/Track Review The Last Sense To Leave Us – A Tribute To Pauline...
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets" CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017