Leah Kline's debut CD certainly is a Playground of fresh and creative new ideas that just simply add up to a lot of fun for the listener. Someone would have to be hard pressed to not like this recording by the Amsterdam-based Kline and her supporting group of Los Angeles-based jazz musicians. What they have assembled is a collection of new and unique arrangements that provide a fresh take on jazz standards such as "Doodlin,'" "Prelude to a Kiss," "Peel Me a Grape" and pop songs like "Wives and Lovers," "Hernando's Hideaway," "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend," and "Tenderly." Kline also adds one original to the mix with her lyrics on "Call of the Muse," set to music composed by Joost van de Knaap.
One of the fun elements of this recording is Kline's voice. Her presentation possesses a certain bluesy swagger with a Mae West "Why don't you come up and see me some time" attitude. These qualities are most evident on the opening track, an arrangement of Horace Silver's "Doodlin'" with vocalese by Jon Hendricks. Kline negotiates large mouthfuls of lyrics with insouciant aplomb and hipness. The "come hither" part of Kline's musical personality shines most brightly in the arrangement of Cole Porter's "Love For Sale." Pianist John Rangel's Latin-styled arrangement and the somewhat melodramatic introduction show off what must be an exciting stage presence for Kline when she performs live.
Her performance on the Johnny Hodges/Duke Ellington classic "Prelude to a Kiss" turns this romantic ballad on a tangent from Hodges' familiar excruciating ecstasy to more of a lover's sweet and gentle caress, presented lovingly and simply with only Rangel's piano accompanying. Another unique approach is Kline's rendition of "I've Got Rhythm," accompanied only by the rhythm of drummer Lorca Hart. There are also some passages where Kline demonstrates her ability to scat sing when trading fours with drummer Hart.
With all of the jazz singers out and about today, Leah Kline is certainly one worthy of notice. Her debut CD is certainly a playground of great creativity, musicianship, and fun. I look forward to her next recording project.
Track Listing: Doolin', Love for Sale, Wives and Lovers, Give Me the Simple Life, Girls of Summer, In The Dark, Alone Together, Prelude to a Kiss, Hernando's Hideaway, Oh! Look at Me Now!, Call of the Muse, I've Got Rhythm, Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, Peel me a Grape, Tenderly/Midnight Sun, Pure Imagination
Personnel: Leah Kline (vocals), John Rangel (piano), Mike Valerio (bass), Lorca Hart (drums), Derf Reklaw (percussion), Dan Weinstein (trombone and violin), Larry Williams (trumpet)
Year Released: 2004
| Record Label: Theatrics Productions
| Style: Vocal
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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