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The David Leonhardt Jazz Group: The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Cole Porter

Edward Blanco By

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A towering figure in American musical history, Cole Porter's music has been performed by countless people and groups for decades, enduring to this day. Pianist/composer David Leonhardt is the latest artist to interpret the work of the legendary songwriter with a smart and snappy presentation on The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Cole Porter. With plenty of music to choose from, Leonhardt selects six compositions from the 1940s and '50s, but was wise enough to fill the balance of the repertoire with charts from the '30s, Porter's most successful songwriting decade.

Usually performing and recording with trios, the pianist expands his group to a quintet with New York singer Nancy Reed who adds a touch of class to the album. Pittsburgh native Paul Wells anchors the rhythms on drums. with Matthew Parrish providing tasteful bass lines. The star in Leonhardt's band, however, is 71 year-old Philadelphia legend Larry McKenna, one of the finest tenor saxophonists on the East coast, and the dean of Philadelphia reed men.

The familiar 1930s standard "Love For Sale" opens the disc, featuring the pianist in a trio format, with McKenna and Reed sitting this one out but not for long, as the two contribute to the lovely ballad of "Every Time We Say Goodbye." On "Just One of Those Things," a gem of an instrumental piece, McKenna takes over the music with his superb phrases, aptly supported by Leonhardt. Reed sparkles on the classic "Night And Day," with McKenna filling the background as the singer scats a bit.

Leonhardt comes out of his shell on "In The Still Of The Night," making a statement with his more than appreciable piano chops. Parrish and Reed perform a brief duet on the introduction of "I've Got You Under My Skin," before the rest of the group weigh in on a lovely piece. Another outstanding instrumental number is the immortal "I Concentrate On You," a showcase for both pianist and saxophonist alike. Other warm and delicate songs, interpreted brightly, are "I Love You" and the soft love ballad, "All of You."

Leonhardt ends his Porter homage with 1938's "Get Out Of Town," closing the session as it began, in a classic piano trio format highlighting his style and swagger on the instrument. The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Cole Porter is devoid of weak musical moments. Leonhardt has produced another creative album conveying the themes of love—at which Porter was also so good—with fresh new arrangements, making old classics sound almost like new.

Track Listing: Love For Sale; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Just One of Those Things; Night And Day; In The Still of The Night; You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To; I've Got You Under My Skin; I Concentrate On You; It's All Right With Me; I Love You; All Of You; Get Out Of Town.

Personnel: David Leonhardt: piano; Nancy Reed: vocals; Larry McKenna: tenor saxophone; Matthew Parrish: bass; Paul Wells: drums.

Title: The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Cole Porter | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Big Bang Records

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