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January/February 2004

Leeann Ledgerwood Trio
Walkin' Up
SteepleChase

Ever hear of LeeAnn Ledgerwood? Too few nonmusicians have. Originally from Ohio, the Berklee grad has been working, recording and teaching (jazz piano and composition at the New School) in New York, and obviously battling the glass ceiling while spreading the gospel according to Bill Evans. Well, an upgraded Evans. Maybe that's what makes her so unmarketable to ordinary jazz fans. She has more technique than she can hope to use. It spills out all over her new release, Walkin' Up (SteepleChase), but it doesn't intimidate her two young compatriots, bassist John Graham Davis (a former student of hers) and drummer Brandon Lewis. Nor does it stop her from choosing difficult material, including tunes by Wayne Shorter ("This Is for Albert"), McCoy Tyner ("Passion Dance"), Carla Bley ("Ida Lupino"), John Coltrane ("Lonnie's Lament") and Trane's conception of Harold Arlen's "Out of This World." The balladic highlight is Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now," with a well-pitched solo by Davis. Very few have tried to record the Bill Evans-penned title tune; Ledgerwood disposed of it first take.

Originally published in January/February 2004
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