The Great American Songbook can beand often isoverused when emerging vocalists put together a collection. What sets one apart from another is a little deviationpicking standards that aren't covered ad nauseam, or creative arrangements. Sarah DeLeo tries both approaches with I'm in Heaven Tonight.
The New York-based DeLeo began singing at the age of nine and developed a love of jazz soon afterward. She has found inspiration from a variety of jazz and non-jazz artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Linda Ronstadt and Stevie Wonder. Her primary accompanists are percussionist Mark Bordenet, with keyboard duties split between organist Brian Charette and pianist David Cook. Others who appear on selected tracks are Jay Collins on saxophone and flute, Chris Bergson on guitar, Fabio Morgera on trumpet and Gary Wang on bass.
DeLeo delivers a bouncy take on the classic "Rockin' Robin," a delightful arrangement by Collins that puts a jazz spin to a vintage pop song. Collins' flute adds a touch of "bird in flight" to this groove.
Wang, Bordenet and Charette quietly bring up "No Moon at All"; DeLeo's voice is light, and her notes precise. Bergson contributes a mellow guitar solo, with the organ striking complementary chords throughout.
Morgera joins the ensemble for "On the Street Where You Live." DeLeo feels happy as she sings of an amorous interest, with emotion that is infectious. Bordenet, Charette, Bergson and Wang play with vigor. Morgera performs a bouncy solo in the middle break.
DeLeo's melody to Oliver Nelson's classic "Stolen Moments," to which she composed the lyrics, follows the original perfectly. Using her voice rather than another instrument sets this rendition apart from others, with Bergson and Collins soloing during the middle break.
DeLeo's approach makes I'm in Heaven Tonight unlike most tribute or cover albums, and with her crystal voice and strong supporting cast, it's got excellent repeat-play potential.
Rockin' Robin; I Feel Pretty; I'm in Heaven Tonight; No Moon at All; On the Street Where You Live; Stolen Moments; Let It Rain; In the Cold, Cold Night; Sometimes I'm Happy; You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me.
Sarah DeLeo: vocals; Chris Bergson: guitar (1, 2, 4-7, 10); Mark Bordenet: percussion; Brian Charette: organ (1, 2, 4-6); Jay Collins: saxophone and flute (1, 6, 7, 10); David Cook: piano (3, 7, 9, 10); Fabio Morgera: trumpet (3, 5, 7); Gary Wang: bass (3, 7-10).