by: Geannine Reid
Renditions of Cole Porter’s classics have been explored on many jazz albums throughout the ages. So how does a musician take this concept and make a standout concept. The answer is exhibited in the latest release by veteran pianist David Leonhardt.
Cole Porter’s music is clearly a favorite for many jazz and standards enthusiasts. What Leonhardt brings to the offering is his formidable talents as arranger, improviser, and band leader. The supporting cast of Larry McKenna on saxophone, considered a jazz great who has recorded with such other jazz icons as, Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and beyond. Bassist, Matthew Parris whose resume also includes jazz icons Clark Terry, and Marian McPartland. Drummer Paul Wells brings to the table a modern flavor that melds the tradition of swing and the rhythmic sensibilities of modern jazz. Adding one of the finest interpreters of lyrics Nancy Reed to the mix creates fresh interpretations to these timeless gems.
“Love for Sale” christens the opening with a trio setting featuring Leonhardt, Parish and Wells; the trio gives this classic tune its own time signature in six, lending a frolicking romp rhythmically to the cut.
“Night and Day” is given a bluesy shuffle feel with a 6/8 undercurrent, vocalist Nancy Reed is featured on this cut, and her stylings give it an authentic and soulful reading. McKenna, Leonhardt and Reed share a piano soli, which uplifts the solo section to add interest.
“You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” is conveyed with a bossa nova feel. Nancy Reed uses an inflection of micro-tones to embellish the melody, giving the cut a feeling of tension and release.
“Get Out of Town” ends this satisfying journey. Parris lends his nimble lines in the intro, while Leonhardt tastefully colors with stabs and Wells keeps the swing well oiled. Leonhardt states the melody with block chords that lend itself to a smooth transition of arpeggios. This cut offers a truly delightful interaction between the musicians.
Leonhardt’s abilities as a player, composer and arranger are up to the task with this wonderful tribute album of Cole Porter tunes. Not just another rehash, Leonhardt truly has given these well traversed tunes a new sound.