Donna Leonhart

Bein' Green

  • AllMusic Rating
    6
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Vocalist Donna Leonhart, the wife of bassist Jay Leonhart and mother of trumpeter Michael and vocalist Carolyn Leonhart, is in fine form on her first-ever commercial release. Her voice is delicate and fairly high, confident in pitch, more than able to convey the subtleties of these well-chosen songs. The album's quirky charm, however, owes much to Michael Leonhart, who produced and arranged all the tracks and not only played trumpet and flügelhorn, but also filled in on piano, guitar, melodica, and drums and percussion. A host of other musicians also appear: Jay Leonhart on bass, Joel Frahm on tenor sax, Chris Potter on bass clarinet, Lee Musiker on piano, Paulo Braga on drums, and more. Michael Leonhart utilizes them in just the right combinations, giving every song an entirely different flavor and mood. There are a couple of Wizard of Oz numbers: "If I Only Had a Brain" blossoms midway with a marvelously harmonized horn break, and "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" becomes a full-tilt jazz vehicle, with Frahm and Musiker taking hot solos. On "Angel Eyes," Donna Leonhart's vocal is framed by bluesy, low-register acoustic guitar, wailing plunger trumpet, and nothing more. Other highlights include a string quartet arrangement of "Here's That Rainy Day," lush readings of "Lazy Afternoon," Cole Porter's "Dream Dancing," and a saloon-style, piano-and-voice curtain call with "I Keep Goin' Back to Joe's." But what really takes the cake is the title track, "Bein' Green," the Kermit the Frog classic. Bear in mind that Donna Leonhart is a talented woman who opted out of public life for quite a while. When she sings this song of hard-won yet tentative self-acceptance, it is a candid and personal moment, a singularly moving and honest way to make one's debut.

blue highlight denotes track pick