Lizzie Thomas: “New Sounds From The Jazz Age” (2020) CD Review
Vocalist Lizzie Thomas delivers exciting and passionate renditions of some beloved standards on her new album, New Sounds From The Jazz Age, adding her own touches to the familiar material. She is backed by John Colianni on piano, who also did the arrangements, and by Jay Leonhart on bass, Boots Maleson on bass, Russell Malone on guitar, Matt Chertkoff on guitar, Omar Daniels on tenor saxophone and flute, Felix Peikli on clarinet, Bernard Linette on drums, and Doug Hendrichs on percussion.
I’ve said this many times, but you can never go wrong with Gershwin, and Lizzie Thomas chooses to open this album with a totally fun and enjoyable rendition of “Fascinating Rhythm,” which features its own fascinating and delightful rhythm. Lizzie Thomas delivers an excellent and lively vocal performance that features a bit of scat. But the entire band backing her is cooking here, and I particularly love Felix Peikli’s work on clarinet, that instrument seeming to have an energy all its own. And, hey, Lizzie Thomas follows that with another Gershwin composition, “Our Love Is Here To Stay.” The opening lines of this song always strike me as being pertinent: “The more I read the papers/The less I comprehend/The world in all its capers/And how it all will end/Nothing seems to be lasting.” Her delivery of those lines is backed by some gentle and cool work by Russell Malone on guitar. When the song kicks in, it takes on a nice groove, and I love John Colianni’s work on piano. “I Didn’t Know About You” also features some nice work on keys, the sound of this one conjuring images of cool jazz clubs from another time, the song effortlessly transporting us there. Plus, this track includes a wonderful lead on saxophone.
Lizzie Thomas’ rendition of Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” opens with a rockin’ section that caught me by surprise, particularly that guitar. It is a bit of “It’s Nice To Go Trav’ling,” written by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen. The track then quickly transitions into “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.” There is a joy to Lizzie’s vocal performance that is certain to make you feel good. She doesn’t hold back. She offers a bit of scat, which quickly leads to a fantastic lead on saxophone, almost taking its cue from the scat, like it was continuing that thought. That is followed by another Cole Porter song, an interesting rendition of “In The Still Of The Night” that begins with a Latin groove.
Lizzie Thomas gives us a fast rendition of “One Note Samba.” It begins at a quick pace, so when it gets to that normally fast section, it reaches an almost frantic pace, which is interesting and also impressive, particularly the vocals. This track also features some great stuff on piano. This one really races along, and, perhaps because of the pace, is a fairly short rendition. She follows that with “Cheek To Cheek,” which she begins slowly, opening with the line “And I seem to find the happiness I seek” rather than “Heaven, I’m in heaven.” When it kicks in, it has a delightful and cheerful vibe, John Colianni’s fingers dancing on the keys. This track also has a cool bass line. Lizzie belts out the line “Dance with me,” like the other person has no choice but to obey. It’s an interesting moment before returning to the main feel of the song. She then offers a kind of fun version of “Close Your Eyes,” not as romantic as, say, the version by Ruth Etting, but with its own charm. Felix Peikli adds some wonderful stuff on clarinet, and I love Matt Chertkoff’s work on guitar.
Lizzie Thomas concludes the album with “The Very Thought Of You,” a song that always reminds me of that montage at the end of Home For The Holidays. It is a beautiful song, one I am always happy to hear. This version has a different and prominent rhythm that gives it a different vibe. What I love is the passion of Lizzie’s delivery. This song sometimes brings tears to my eyes, but this version has much more cheer to it. Things are good, and Lizzie Thomas is celebrating that, celebrating her love, spreading the joy she feels to all who are listening.
CD Track List
- Fascinating Rhythm
- Our Love Is Here To Stay
- I Didn’t Know About You
- You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
- In The Still Of The Night
- One Note Samba
- Cheek To Cheek
- Close Your Eyes
- The Very Thought Of You
New Sounds From The Jazz Age is scheduled to be released on January 24, 2020.