Interpreting lyrics convincingly and scatting with fired-up authority, Ranee Lee turns in a winning performance, working with a superb piano trio that agrees with her expressive manner. She and pianist Oliver Jones first recorded together over fifteen years ago. Here, they're both quite expressive in their delivery: Lee the warm interpreter and Jones the impeccable keyboard presenter.
The pianist's crisp cascades and crystal clear melodic romps give the session a clean attack. Combined with bass and drums, his improvisations leave telltale tracks all over the place. Jones' driving force allows the quartet plenty of room to swing.
Lee, a personal favorite who combines the swinging energy and deep feeling of legendary jazz singers with a natural communicative spirit, interprets this program of sensual ballads and familiar romps with an innate zeal. The blues is embedded in her work. If Lee were a politician, she could convince entire nations to follow her dreams without question. Her spontaneity and wit give each interpretation a welcome nod.
The quartet's drive gives "Sister Sadie" a mean funk that makes the lyric come alive. "Stardust" lingers on the balcony as an anthem for twilight's gentle ballad refrain. Dvorak's "Goin' Home" places both Lee and Jones in the position of veteran spokesperson for ballad sensuality. Their slow duet lets the piece breathe passionately. "Autumn Leaves" turns a corner and places Lee in the role of scat singer extraordinaire. Her vocal acrobatics carry the quartet's blazingly fast interpretation into the next century.
"Just You, Just Me" is presented twice, once by the full quartet and again as a duo performance. In an imitation of our daily lifestyle routines, they open the album full of energy and driving up-tempo jazz with pizzazz, then close with a sleepy ballad interpretation that comes filled with a deep love for the music.
Track Listing: Just You, Just Me; Will He Be a Traveling Man; Stardust; Sister Sadie; There's Nothing Left
(But Goodbye); This is It; Images; The Ballad of the Sad Young Men; Until I Was Loved;
Guess Who (I Saw Today, My Dear?); Goin' Home; Autumn Leaves; Just You, Just Me.
Personnel: Ranee Lee: vocals; Oliver Jones: piano; Eric Lagac
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.