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The Jay Leonhart Trio: Cool

The level of musicianship displayed on Cool is surpassed only by the spirit of mutuality among bassist-vocalist Jay Leonhart, pianist Ted Rosenthal and guitarist Joe Cohn. Each is an outstanding soloist and could easily have dominated the session. But regardless of who’s stretching out, the comping is masterful.

The Bernstein and Sondheim title track is ideal for Leonhart’s whimsy, and his beautiful original “For Real” is sung with considerable feeling; considering its changes and awkward intervals, no one’s apt to cover it anytime soon. Aside from his reputation for the sardonic, Leonhart shows how intensely he can solo while maintaining a driving pulse on “You and Me” and displays fluid arco on Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz.” Too bad Leonhart didn’t add an arco chorus to “I Loves You, Porgy,” but he still manages to pluck out a heartfelt solo.

Cohn’s three charts are for tunes written by his famous dad, saxophonist Al Cohn. They’re well arranged, particularly “You and Me,” based on the changes to “Tea for Two.” The real hero is Rosenthal, with six intricate charts and a potent right hand suggestive of Kenny Barron and Oscar Peterson. His arrangement of “If I Only Had a Brain” is in 3/4, but except for the release the time signature is not obvious. His half dozen arrangements are quite ingenious, just like Leonhart’s writing on “C-Jam Blues,” which is so unusually reharmonized it’s difficult to recognize the key.

Originally Published