It's nice to have a theme for a CD, in this case, paying homage to one composer. Using musicians Ralph LaLama on sax, Paul Rostock on bass, and Tom Melito on drums, pianist David Leonhardt picked an all-Gershwin program for this project. Nancy Reed was the featured vocalist, with whom he has previously recorded.
One would think a tune like "Summertime" would have been done so many ways that it would be impossible to do anything new with it. Yet this band still manages to come up with something different. Nancy sings smoothly on "Summertime" in a mellow voice, scatting an arranged line during the shout chorus. The band plays a tasteful introduction, and keeps on swinging all the way through this familiar standard. "But Not For Me," an instrumental played with a comfortable bossa-nova tempo, shows Leonhardt's adeptness in a piano trio. Going into a vamp on a tag that gradually fades out is very pleasant.
The third track, "The Man I Love," continues with the talents of Nancy Reed on vocals. One can tell that David has a lot of experience backing up singers; remember, he worked with Jon Hendricks for four years. Other selections include a samba version of "How Long Has This Been Going On?" where Ralph can't wait to take a smokin' tenor solo, a piano feature on `They Can't Take That Away From Me," and great scatting on "Anthropology," the Charlie Parker number which is based on "I Got Rhythm." I like the order of songs on the album: "S'Wonderful" is followed by a relaxed "Our Love is Here to Stay."
David shines on the piano, Ralph soars on the tenor, and you've got a great rhythm section that stays in the background and cooks. By picking a tasteful vocalist such as Nancy Reed, David Leonhardt allows the listener to enjoy some easygoing pleasurable Jazz.