The release of another all-Gershwin record might not be necessary, but when played as lovingly as David Leonhardt surely is welcome. Leonhardt, a veteran of David ‘Fathead’ Newman’s band, has worked with, among others Jon Hendricks, Herbie Mann and Ron Carter. This release, his fifth as leader, remains close to the Gershwin compositions. And why not? Gershwin’s tunes (popular music of their day) were/are perfectly formed melodies. They conjure memories of Broadway shows and great performances. How can one not think about Gershwin music performed by Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, and Gil Evans? I mention those jazz giant just for starters.
Leonhardt’s choice of music opens himself to the obvious comparisons, that, I believe is why he takes on this music in such a straight-forward manner, giving it all the respect it’s due. Leonhardt mixes the music between a trio and quartet, adding vocalist Nancy Reed on half the tracks. Ms. Reed plays it straight too, delivering the familiar with her conversant manner. She scats out the “beat-a-lee bop” to Leonhardt’s dancing piano fingers on “I Got Rhythm,” before tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama takes a solo straight out of the Blue Note catalog. Did I mention Lalama is on this date? He is perhaps the perennial ‘talent deserving wider recognition’ award recipient. His recording Music For Grown-Ups (Criss Cross 1999) is a favorite around these parts. His work with the Village Vanguard Orchestra and as a sideman has earned him the title of a musician’s musician.
Leonhardt utilizes Lalama as a side dish, as he does Reed and his own piano. The main course here is the Gershwin compositions. Whether they take “Our Love Is here To Stay” at a slow pace or up-tempo “Summertime,” the band stays true to the compositions.
Track Listing: Summertime; But Not For Me; The Man I Love; How Long Has This Been Going On?; I
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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