IN A BLUE MOOD
New Sounds From the Jazz Age
Lizzie Thomas Music
Originally classically trained, Lizzie Thomas discovered, after degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education, that she found personal expression in jazz and the American Songbook. On this, her fourth album, she provides some novel interpretations of nine classic standards from the American Songbook. Helping her with these imaginative arrangements and vigorous vocals is a sterling backing band. The studio players include John Colianni on piano, Jay Leonhart or Boots Maleson on bass, Russell Malone or Matt Chertkoff on guitar, Omar Daniels on tenor sax, flute, Felix Peikli on clarinet, Bernard Linette on drums, and Doug Hendrichs on percussion.
One is struck on the opening “Fascinating Rhythm” by Thomas’ vocal command, and her ability to negotiate tempo and key changes. Peikli’s clarinet adds to the mood here. One suspects she would be as enthralling on a musical stage as a night club or concert stage. Russell Malone’s solo guitar provides for her intimate opening to “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” before the full band enters for this alluring performance. Daniels’ flute is outstanding here. Daniels’ sensual tenor sax solo and Colianni’s sparkling piano contribute to a hauntingly gorgeous performance on Duke Ellington’s “I Didn’t Know About You.” Malone adds some trebly, blues-drenched guitar to the lightly rocking, “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.” Daniels adds a robust tenor solo while Thomas adds a brief scatting section.
Opening with a light Latin groove, Thomas sings enticingly on “In the Still of the Night,” with nuanced delivery of the lyrics. Colianni stuns with his striking, and strong, accompaniment. There is a breathtaking rendition of Jobim’s “One Note Samba,” where she dazzles with her phrasing. Also, her handling of the lightning tempo during this performance leaves one astonished by her vocal technique. There is a bouncy “Cheek To Cheek” and a bubbly, yet sensual “Close Your Eyes.” On the latter number, her vocal (including her horn-like scatting) weaves around Peikli’s woody clarinet and Chertkoff’s guitar obligatos.
“The Very Thought of You” benefits from the Afro-Caribbean groove underlying Thomas’ seductive vocal, with marvelous piano, guitar comping, and Daniels’ airy flute. It concludes a wonderfully rendered fresh and imaginative takes on these American songbook classics.