A drum roll and a strong recommendation for Leslie Lewis and her new CD, "Of Two Minds," the other mind (I'm guessing) being her music director and pianist, Gerard Hagen. The quality of the stellar players on the session----Gary Foster, Larry Koonse, Ron Stout et al---should give you some idea of the quality of Ms. Lewis' singing. Until a friend of mine sent me her new CD (her first) yesterday, I mostly knew her as a singer-pianist gigging around southern California hotels, etc., but had not really heard her work, except for a modest four track demo (which I liked). But her new CD is something else. Next month I'm contributing to a group article for a Japanese jazz magazine about the best singers to have come on the scene since 1990. Clearly already a seasoned pro, Leslie will definitely be on my list. She bears a natural slight resemblance to Carmen McRae, but mostly in the timbre of her voice. Otherwise, totally original all the way. Doesn't fall into the scat trap (too much), just far out enough, has a genial "sound," with good taste in repertoire (In Walked Bud, Well You Needn't, etc.), sings in tune, and. . . swings. And the placement of the vocals into the ensemble playing is worthy of the best of Betty Carter. Who could ask or anything more?
If convinced, curious, or just merely dubious, etc., you can check her out here.
(Without intending to do so, I guess I just wrote part of my entry for the Japanese jazz mag.)