The cozy little club on Broadway and 106th Street had singer Lezlie Harrison on Wednesday night, the night before Thanksgiving when 243 million turkeys that had been raised in the US this year, will be prepared by millions of chefs and wanna-be chefs around the country. And yes, we are treated to a Turkey dinner, too and can’t wait to bring back some recipes.
Lezlie came up with a solid, swinging, somehow comfy set of songs that included standards from both the jazz and the soul spectrum. She was equally at home with George Gershwin‘s “Embraceable You” and Stevie Wonder‘s “You And I”, both showcasing her full-blooded, powerful voice. She even managed to give the “ooh-ooh-ooh” on “What A Little Moonlight Can Do” just about the right amount of grace and style – I think this particular part of the track is very often ruined by a lot of singers. Not in Lezlie’s case. She has found a way of elegantly move around the words and include it in the song as if it is really a natural part of it, and not somehow detached from it.
Lezlie had a great band backing her up: Saul Rubin played a bluesy guitar, Ben Paterson had a lot of Jimmy Smith moments on the Hammond organ, and Vince Ector on drums served as solid rhythm maker. As for Lezlie’s repertoire, I’m not really into “All Of Me” since that song is played and sung in almost all hotel lobbys (and usually in pretty mediocre versions), but again with her interpreation, it was saved from completely becoming a preposterous little ditty. Much more satisfying and complete was her diving into soul classics territory, like on Marvin Gaye‘s “What’s Going On” which seemed to be the perfect vehicle for her stunning voice.
Lezlie concluded the early set at Smoke with a robust and effective “Bye Bye Blackbird”.