Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio

Keeper of the Flame

Perfecting dreamy jazz oases is vocalist Leslie Lewis’ specialty. She is accompanied by The Gerard Hagen Trio on her new CD, Keeper of the Flame comprised of Gerard Hagen on piano, Domenic Genova on bass, and Jerry Kalaf on drums and percussion. The album is vintage beaux jazz reminiscent of the likes of Lena Horne and Dinah Washington featuring a repertoire of classic jazz tunage including Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “Spring Is Here” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Fotographia” tweaked with modern swing-inspired tracks like “Keeper of the Flame” penned by Mark Levine and the bluesy soul shading of “Don’t Know What Love Is” by Don Raye and Gene de Paul. Lewis’ new album is conducive to candlelit supper club ambiences with an emphasis on Brazilian jazz. She offers audiences an escape into the tranquility of beaux jazz.

The tapping beats of “No more Blues (Chega de Saudade)” are shrouded in bluesy overtones that permeate a peppy vibe as Lewis breaks into a few bars of scat, which elevates into the feather-light swags that valance “Speak Low” and the percolating rhythm of “Caravan.” The deep timbres of Lewis’ register burrow along the chord progressions creating smoldering grill marks that make these tunes her own. The wispy flutters brushing across “The Island” produce a dreamy aura and the hopping strut of “Day By Day” are decked in flouncing piano keys. Lewis takes audiences back in time to when dreamy beaux jazz was all the rage, but she also treats classic tunes with a modern flare that makes them connect with contemporary audiences.

The caressing vibrations of Lewis’ dark timbres demonstrate a richness that is comparable to Lena Horne and Dinah Washington. Keeper of the Flame is Lewis’ follow up to her debut solo album Of Two Minds which was also recorded with The Gerard Hagen Trio. Lewis maintains a standard of excellence throughout both recordings that is admirable and worthy of beaux jazz status.


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Susan Frances