David Leshare Watson

Live at Lo Spuntino

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An unabashed admirer of Joe Williams, David Leshare Watson got together with Sonoma Valley jazz musicians for a live session at the Lo Spuntino wine bar, which since has changed its name to Cucina Viansa. While Watson certainly has Williams' sense of the music and the way he delivers it, he is much closer to jazz yodeling scatting Leon Thomas on such cuts as "Please Take Me Back to New Orleans" and "I Got the Blues." The latter is also the vehicle for some high-flying soloing by members of the group, especially a lengthy drum break by Babatunde Lea. Based on this outing, Watson could reasonably stake a claim as the legitimate heir of Thomas. The vocalizing is more standard on other tracks, including "Every Day I Fall in Love," which is reinforced by the tenor sax of Robert Stewart. Irrespective of what he's singing, Watson's deep, smooth baritone seems quite at ease and effective with the material. At these live sessions, where the singer is obliged to introduce the members of the band, Watson makes a production of it on something called "Intro Blues," where he cleverly fuses his love for the blues with the names and credentials of the musicians. This may be the longest introduction extant. When he is not doing his Thomas thing, Watson, like Williams, has the ability to take blues-inflected material and, with some adjustments, make it perfectly acceptable to the average listener. This happens on a Shirley Horn favorite "Here's to Life," a tour de force track. Be prepared to fiddle with the dials on the stereo since the sound on this set is quite uneven.

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