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Jazz singing does not so much require an obedient voice as a directed but free-spirited one. There are few vocalists who can pull off the elastic fireworks of a Betty Carter, Lisa Sokolov or Tierney Sutton and fewer still who should even try. East Coast-West Coast vocalist Leslie Lewis has a beautifully perfect alto voice for singing jazz. By tone alone, she can claim a well deserved corner of the jazz vocal map for herself, much in the same way Kate McGarry has done. There is a place for both kinds of singing. Lewis provides an effective vehicle for melody, unadorned by improvisation but fully expanded through phrasing.
Lewis spins out a potent and dense reading of the Gershwin brothers' "The Man I Love" on her Surf Cove recording, Midnight Sun. Fronting an empathetic tenor quartet, Lewis belts the old show tune with a gospel fervor, giving it enough momentum to break out of a traditional orbit and into a purely expressive one. Saxophonist Chuck Manning plays lyric foil to Lewis' deeply hued delivery, the duo carefully comforted by pianist Gerard Hagan's sensitive trio support.
I love jazz because I enjoy the freedom.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was 17.
I met Cedar Walton at a concert in San Paulo.
The best show I ever attended was Helio Jambao trio.
The first jazz record I bought was Witchcraft by George Benson.
My advice to new listeners is listen to the old school first.