The David Leonhardt Trio, Bach to the Blues (Big Bang)
If you love jazz and classical - and have ears that are open improvisation on some of the great classical works, this one’s for you. Pianist David Leonhardt, bassist Matthew Parrish and drummer Alvester Garnett have done an excellent job of building the musical bridge here. The swing and rhythmic openness of their jazz and blues approach brings out new facets in the pieces. Even some clavẽ finds its way into the mix to spice up their take on Bach’s “Prelude in G Minor.” Other favorites: Erick Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1,” Beethoven’s “Adagio from Pathetique” and a turtle’s pace reworking of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” that gives the work a meditative feel.
Ori Dagan, S’Cat Got My Tongue (Scatcat)
A good amount of scat, a pinch of vocalese and some straight-ahead vocals fill this debut CD by Toronto-based singer Ori Dagan. Thank God for the mix, for an outing with nothing but scat would have been a bit tiresome. Dagan, his band and four vocal duet partners roll through a blend of jazz classics, show tunes and originals. My favorites: his duet with Heather Bambrick on “Swing’s the Thing” and his rendition of “Here’s That Rainy Day.”
Monica Mancini, I’ve Loved These Days (Concord)
There are standards, generally pulled from the first few decades of Tin Pan Alley. And there are relatively new standards, or standards-in-the-making. That’s where Monica Mancini is focusing on this fifth CD. Musical chops are in the genes as late, great composer Henry Mancini’s daughter pleasantly covered music by Jackson Browne, Brian Wilson, Harry Nilsson, The Rascals, The Beatles, Bill Joel, Janis Ian and Paul Simon. She actually explores two Simon works - “American Tune” and Something So Right.” Browne, Wonder, Wilson and The Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere also participate either vocally and/or instrumentally on their respective tracks. This is a stunning update of classic 1960s songs, bookended by her takes on 1959’s “The Ballad of the Sad Young Men” from Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf, and Joel’s 1976 hit, “I’ve Loved These Days.” This is a March 30, 2010 release.