Les Grant: Way Forward Way Back

A true renaissance man, Les Grant is a trailblazer in online healthcare, a senior hospital executive in Manhattan, an accomplished actor with a spectrum of regional and off-Broadway successes, a gifted writer and, in whatever spare time that leaves, a jazz vocalist, guitarist and bandleader. But don’t assume Grant’s multitasking diminishes his jazz cred. He is neither poseur nor dilettante, but an estimably intuitive interpreter with a terrific sense of time and a unique, slightly nasal sound that echoes the elegance of Kenny Rankin.

Grant regularly gigs around New York, fronting his LG5, a tight unit comprising pianist John Chin, drummer Dan Rieser, bassist Matt Pavolka and saxophonist John Ellis. For the group’s debut recording, Grant sticks exclusively to standards. On first spin, the readings seem arrow-straight, but closer listening reveals subtle yet deeply intelligent touches: the furtiveness that lurks beneath “Angel Eyes”; Ellis’ teasing hint of bump ‘n’ grind behind “One for My Baby”; Chin’s gentle mapping of the emotional highs and lows of “I Get Along Without You Very Well.” Grant also numbers among the few singers who fully appreciate the bursting-at-the-seams ecstasy of “Old Devil Moon.” Equally convincing playing the bashful boy next door on “I’m Old Fashioned” or a seasoned lothario across “You and the Night and the Music,” Grant is, indeed, one marvelously dexterous fellow.