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Tom Lellis: Southern Exposure

Adventure released the irresistible vocalist and pianist Tom Lellis’ Southern Exposure–a vespers to love. “Luisa,” a Toninho Horta and Ellis composition, features guitarist Horta and pianist Dave Kikoski’s tidy and lovely interchanges, a supple trio of back-up glittering mermaiding vocals and Ellis gorgeously phrasing the sense of wonderment in the lyrics. Ellis and Horta also pair up for a closing duo in Jobim’s “Falando de Amor/Tema de Amor,” sung accentless by Ellis, who manages to reproduce himself vocally in Portuguese, without loosing phrasing, intonation, technique or feel. Horta’s accompanying is beautifully toned and paced. Ellis funks up his Portuguese singing in a samba titled “Obi” where Kenny Werner stands out with driving strength and block chords, matched by Romero Lubambo on guitar. Hermeto Pascoal and Airto Moreira’s “Mixing/Tomba in 7/4” is energetically interpreted by the Werner and Horta with percussive intensity and punchy unison vocal effects from the Lellis and Roseanna Vitro. “Bridges” is a crooner’s creamy and dreamy balladistic delight-on “bridges made out of love”-albeit one has to be ready for the jazzified force of drummer and percussionist Jamey Haddad as well as Kikoski’s on piano.

Originally Published