Leslie Lewis

Leslie Lewis, Keeper of the Flame

Reviewed By: Steven Harband

There is something magical about a truly authentic jazz recording with all the trimmings and in this case the trimming or icing is Leslie Lewis, ably supported by Gerard Hagen (piano), Domenic Genova (bass), Jerry Kalaf (drums/percussion), and special guest, Gary Foster (alto sax, flute, and alto flute).

Lewis has a very authentic jazz voice reminiscent of Carmen McRae, not to say that Lewis is a duplication of McRae, but her voice offers similar qualities. What is most pleasing in a jazz vocalist is the ability to create an organic, non-affected delivery with true jazz rhythm and tension. Lewis exhibits these qualities in spades, backed by an intuitive and technically articulate ensemble her latest release is duly entitled Keeper of the Flame.

Keeper of the Flame offers a nice mix of Latin and well-arranged standards. Some of those include a gorgeous rendition of “The Island” this cut will immediately transport you to a tropical paradise. Special guest Gary Foster weaves a palette of floating textures, complimenting the vocal prowess of Lewis in her elongated lines.

“You Don’t Know What Love Is” is typically approached as a ballad, Lewis gives it a funky/bluesy treatment that offers a new look at this classic standard. Lewis digs in and caresses the track with sass and style. Her band of seasoned professional’s serves it up hot.

“Caravan” has an international flair and ere of intrigue. Bassist, Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf lay down and throbbing and driving bass-line adding to the panache of the cut. The cut boils to a fever before Lewis’ commanding vocals enter the scene. As a unit the group creates a powerful rendition of this well-covered standard, giving it a unique flavor and truly stamping the cut as their own.

Keeper of the Flame is well worth adding to your collection, and Lewis is a jazz vocalist who sets herself apart from the pack.

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