Wayne Escoffery / Carolyn Leonhart

Tides of Yesterday

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The husband-and-wife team of saxophonist Wayne Escoffery and vocalist Carolyn Leonhart have a nice handle on ballads, mainstream jazz, and neo-bop on this collection of tunes that has an old-school feeling, updated with a few twists and turns. Leonhart's vocal command in the pop world with Steely Dan is well-known, and here she deepens her commitment to jazz with a flexible, at-times sensual, mostly pleasing vocal approach. Escoffery, on tenor and occasionally soprano sax, asserts himself at times, but is more a part of this team of jazz players, which includes the exceptional pianist Toru Dodo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Donald Edwards. Challenging material such as Lee Morgan's "Infinity" is updated, funky, and even soaring in an off-minor cast, as is the tick-tock-to-bluesy original "Better Next Time." Leonhart and brother Michael's words to Joe Martin's "The Harbor" has that elusive, 7/8 to 4/4 rhythm within contemporary terms that commands attention, but at her core, the singer's good common sense, mixed with her sensuality, shine best on ballads like the classic "Never Never Land" or the eerie Charles Mingus dirge "Eclipse." Adam Rogers adds spacy guitar à la Bill Frisell for two selections, while Donald Fagan's "Big Noise, New York" reminds listeners where Leonhart's bread is buttered. A relatively new thing for Escoffery and Leonhart as musical partners, this pairing should develop more in time, and stretch further in progressive areas.

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