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"Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York"-Critical Jazz

Monday, August 19, 2013

 Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen In New York 2013

Contemporary standards and the Great American Songbook pulled off with flair and elegance!

Brent Black / @CriticalJazz

I love New York...I can even find room in my heart for the New York Yankees. What takes almost no effort is to make room for a duo that can handle the Great American Songbook with just a splash of the more popular contemporary tunes in such an effortless fashion as Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen. The latest release, Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York chronicles their exponential growth as an artistic pair never mind the fact they just happen to be husband and wife!

 Comfort and connectivity are the driving forces when tackling a project including tunes such as "Like Someone In Love" and "Body and Soul." Far too many artists attempting to write checks their artistic sensibilities are incapable of cashing will bang out a set of standards, do a passable job and subsequently be forgotten about ten minutes after the recording or show is over. Lewis & Hagen linger with the warmth and comfort of that favorite sweater or comfortable pair of jeans.

 The standards covered here are slightly left of center, the duo went a bit deeper in the Great American Songbook than others often do and the results are magnificent. When the standard is slightly more familiar then they make it count. Understanding that there is a great deal of lyrical depth in the Great American Songbook other than Cole Porter works to their advantage well.  Highlights also include the Roberta  Flack popular smash, "Killing Me Softly" penned by the great Norman Gimble. The previously mentioned "Body and Soul" is a potential train wreck waiting to happen. This particular tune can turn karaoke in an instant or you can have a vocalist such as Lewis embrace this timeless classic and make it her own if just for a brief moment in time. What makes this duo work incredibly well is that pianist Gerard Hagen is far more than an afterthought accompanist but instead has the unique ability to move and shift the harmonic base of each tune to fit not only the mood but to create his own artistic stamp on this project.

 Do Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen reinvent the musical wheel with these tunes? No, and again that may be the key to success. Some melodies and arrangements are simply to good to deconstruct as you will pail in comparison nine times out of ten. When you have the level of talent that is Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen the music can and will always speak for itself.

A wonderfully entertaining release.

5 Stars

Tracks: Like Someone In Love; Gentle Is My Love; Solitude; I Want To Be Happy; Killing Me Softly; You Must Believe In Spring; I'll Remember April; When I Fall In Love; Body And Soul.

Personnel: Leslie Lewis: Vocals; Gerard Hagen: Piano

www.surfcovejazz.com

"Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York"-All About Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review

Leslie Lewis: Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York (2013)

By  Published: August 26, 2013

Leslie Lewis: Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York

Vocalist Leslie Lewis' previous recording, Midnight Sun (Self Produced, 2012), revealed a a thoughtful and well-managed talent able to imbue her music with a dark pathos. Not dark in any negative sense of the word, but rich and romantic. Her followup, Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York, made with her husband/pianist, distills Lewis' talent to the intimate duet level, concentrating the music to a point where much is revealed.

"Like Someone In Love" is introduced with Lewis singing a cappella through two choruses before Gerard Hagen bounces in, telepathically in tempo. Lewis takes on the Joe Jackson-penned lyrics to Duke Ellington's "Solitude," singing at a slow but determined pace, raising the ballad to gospel proportions. The more recent "Killing Me Softly" is the lengthiest piece on the recording, chiming in at seven-plus minutes. Lewis and Hagen again heart-meld into a warm simpatico that is delivered completely intact in an impressionistic fashion.

"Body and Soul" should be required listening to understand what the hubbub was all about when Coleman Hawkins transformed the song into a progenitor of bebop so long ago. That is the charm of straight vocal performance: it serves as a reminder of what the composers originally intended before jazz acolytes transformed that intention in so many wonderful ways. There is always a beginning and Leslie Lewis stands firmly on that spot when she sings.

Track Listing: Like Someone In Love; Gentle is My Love; Solitude; I Want to be Happy; Killing Me Softly; You Must Believe in Spring; I’ll Remember April; When I Fall In Love; Body and Soul.

Personnel: Leslie Lewis: vocals Gerard Hagen: piano.

Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream

"Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York"-Jazz Music

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York

Year: 2013

Style: Jazz vocal

Label: Surf Cove Jazz

Musicians: Leslie Lewis - vocals; Gerard Hagen - piano.

CD Review: Whenever Leslie Lewis and Gerard Hagen collaborate musically, the show is fabulous, and the feeling is amazement. Their recent creative alliance"Leslie Lewis and Gerard Hagen in New York," does not disappoint, and may even reach new heights in artistry and performance for romantic ballads and popular songs for a duo recording of voice and piano. Although this date represents a change in emotional character, and a separation from the rhythmic pedigree (Domenic Genova - bass; Jerry Kalaf - drums) of their acclaimed 2012 CD: Leslie Lewis With The Gerard Hagen TrioMidnight Sun (Surf Cove Jazz), it is not lacking in Lewis' precise, interpretive mastery of the American songbook, and others, or Hagen's genius for concocting elixirs of pianism with his lissome fingertips. If anything, Lewis and Hagen seem intent on elevating the musical concept of voice and piano to higher rungs of excellence.

Leslie Lewis reveals an instinctual penchant for jazz standards which she sumptuously spreads
over half of the CD. She applies well-tailored phrasing and a deft interpretive mien suggestive
of jazz singer Carmen McRae to open the date (Like Someone In Love), a 1944 
Jimmy van Heusen/Johnny Burke popular song, now a jazz standard. Lewis steps out in
style as she opens 'una voce,' establishing the tenor, mood, and form with a voice that
glows with warmth, energy and cool excitement. Lewis is a special artist with a treasure
trove of songs in her heart.

"Leslie Lewis and Gerard Hagen in New York," appeals passionately to the feeling of
being in love, and falling gloriously head-first in love, but its overture administers tender
solace for those 'out of love.' However, its encompassing appeal lies in its human operatic 
oeuvre,  and location: New York; the city that's always in love; that makes love personal
and magical; "the city that never sleeps"; but who wants to sleep, when they're in love?
And can act like, someone in love; who alone knows how 'gentle is my love.' Even in solitude,
when I cry out, 'I want to be happy,' because 'you're killing me softly.' I tell myself  'you must
believe in Spring.'  But instead, 'I'll remember April. And when I fall in love, again, I'll still
give body and soul. This in effect, is the human drama played out daily, hourly in all the
New Yorks of the world, that Lewis captures so beautifully; so naturally.

Leslie Lewis, vocal; Gerard Hagen, piano
"Leslie Lewis and Gerard Hagen in New
York"  is an important recording for this
exceptionally talented and committed duo.
It adds convincing depth to Lewis' growing
repertoire, and transports her firmly from the
category of 'singer,'  to the realm of a 'song
stylist' who can handle the ballad. And it is as
song stylist that she turns gracefully in the
direction of one her first influences,  Miss
Nancy Wilson, for (Gentle Is my Love),
a lush Bill Schluger/Don Raye ballad, and a
1965 hit for Wilson. Hagen augments the
resolute finality in Lewis' interpretation of the
lyric with a bluesy, patient piano caress, cajoling
Lewis into a convincing reprise of Nancy Wilson's lush, breathy, romantic elegance; adding her
own mindful read of the bitter-sweet lyric, which she skillfully extends into the descending depths
of the ultra indigo of (Solitude), the 1934 jazz standard composed by Duke Ellington and 
Eddie DeLange,  then re-emerging with awesome vocal power and range last heard on
"A House Is Not A Home" from her Midnight Sun CD  (Surf Cove Jazz, 2012). Eventually the
smoldering love affair between voice and piano reaches full bloom in (You Must Believe In Spring), 
a haunting 1966 jazz standard written by  Michel Legrand. Now two hearts could
beat as one, in the name of hope and felicity, but ever mindful that trust trumps all.

Human drama lives by, and through, its high points, as do the arts; music more so.
The high point for Lewis and Hagen, arrives with her soulful interpretation of 
(Killing Me Softly), a 1973 number one hit for singer Roberta Flack, written by
Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox. Lewis prevails upon  the transparent beauty of her voice
to coax the song into an excruciatingly, achingly, thoughtful stroll through memories written
in sadness, surrender, and submission. She reaches deep into the lyric, not burrowing,
but rather cutting cleanly to its emotional center with Hagen's poignant piano
always within arm's reach; guided by the pathos in Lewis' interpretive discernment;
supportive, sensitive, never over playing.

There comes a time in the life of every love affair when (Body And Soul) must be sung.
Hagen concedes; his piano painting splendid, moving colors, as is his wont, and at which
he is nakedly stellar. On occasion, inducing the 'speed of light' thinking of Tatum into
his runs. Lewis counters with that one-of-a-kind, come hither beckon in her voice that
sets out to melt any defense. She goes to many places in the lyric, stripping out the clutter,
the distractions, the noise; filling the spaces with persuasive vulnerability, deep emotion,
and an endearing simplicity; wrapping the lyric in a patina of its own elegance; delivering the
1930 jazz standard written by Edward Heyman/Robert Sour/Frank Eyton/Johnny Green 
with limpid resolve and the conviction of a superb song stylist singing straight out of a gorgeous,
song-filled heart.

Track Listing: Like Someone In Love; Gentle Is My Love; Solitude; I Want To Be Happy;
Killing Me Softly; You Must Believe In Spring; I'll Remember April; When I Fall In Love:
Body And Soul.

Recorded at: Lehman Studios New York, NY
Recording Engineer: Angela Piva
Assistant Engineer: Emmanuel Grant

Additional Recording at: Studio "J" Los Angeles
Engineer: Jerry Kalaf

"Midnight Sun" Jazz Times

JUL 31
Leslie Lewis is interviewed by Jazz Times - Looking Forward
INTERVIEW 
Leslie Lewis, Midnight Sun by: H. Allen Williams
Looking Forward
Leslie Lewis is the type of jazz vocalist that conveys the jazz language in a delivery style that harkens back to the be-bop era.  You truly hear the hours of hard work and study of the jazz language laced into every note she sings.  Her authenticity is immediate, but you also hear the evolution of her journey as each year passes and with each release. I have had the pleasure of hearing her previous releases; Of Two Minds, Keeper of the Flame and now Midnight Sun.  Like Lewis’ previous recordings, Midnight Sun features guest artists, in this case trombonist Joey Sellers and tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning and of course her longtime collaborator pianist (husband) Gerard Hagen,  Jerry Kalaf (drums) and Domenic Genova (bass).  The repertoire ranges from the American song book from George Gershwin and Cole Porter to Burt Bacharach and Paul McCartney, all with Lewis’ dead on rhythmic sensibilities and powerful vocal prowess.  Hagen and his trio are superb; this is truly a jazz offering worth exploring, and for the younger generation of aspiring vocalists, to truly use as a lesson in excellence, especially when studying the language of be-bop.
I got a chance to interview Leslie right before her move to Paris; we spoke about her upbringing, the California Jazz scene versus the New York scene and her process for choosing material for her records. It was a delightful opportunity to get a closer look from her perspective.
  
H. Allen Williams: How do you feel your east coast upbringing influenced the type of jazz you love to perform? 
Leslie Lewis: My father grew up in New Jersey where he went to school with Sarah Vaughan. His love of jazz and jazz singers was a huge influence on me as grew up. We listened to all the great jazz artists, Ella, Sarah, Carmen, Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington. Being so close to New York gave us opportunities to hear many artists in all genres.
H. Allen Williams: Who would you say was your biggest influence musically growing up?
Leslie Lewis: Cleo Laine’s “Live” at Carnegie Hall recording was an important influence on me. I loved her phrasing and scatting. I listened to that recording over and over. Anything Ella did was important. As a child I sang and loved all kinds of music, show tunes, R & B, pop music and standards. I wasn’t focused on jazz until later.
H. Allen Williams: How do you feel the California jazz scene differs from the New York scene?
Leslie Lewis: Los Angeles is very spread out. At any given time there are a few clubs and performance spaces that will make a commitment feature jazz music. They usually come and go and another pops up somewhere else. Because of the distance from one club to the next it is difficult for the musicians to have a place to hang and develop a better sense of community. There are wonderful players and music presenters here who are working very hard to make it work and for that reason there will always be a jazz scene in L.A. Gerard and I were working in New York last Nov. and found the number of jazz clubs and opportunities to perform were considerably more than in Los Angeles. New York musicians might not feel this way but that was our impression.
H. Allen Williams: When choosing songs to record an album, what do you look for in a song, is it the lyric that influences you or is it the melody?
Leslie Lewis: The first thing I consider is the melody. The material has to speak to me in some meaningful way. The changes are also important in that they support the melody in a way that leaves me some space to interpret the melody in my own way.
H. Allen Williams: Do you ever see yourself recording a completely original works album?
Leslie Lewis: I can’t say no, but I’d have to find enough original material that spoke to me. If that were to happen I think it would be a lot of fun to make that record.
H. Allen Williams: How do you feel live performance influences the way you interpret a song?
Leslie Lewis: In front of an audience the actress in me comes out. There is an energy in the room that is not present in a studio. Anything that one of the musicians plays can change the direction of the music and affect my performance. That is the beauty of music that is improvised and the thing that we as jazz musicians must access to let the audience feel that they are witnessing a special one-time event.
H. Allen Williams: Your husband (Gerard Hagen) is your pianist, how did the two of you meet?
Leslie Lewis: I wanted to develop my piano chops and so I took a jazz piano class at a local college. Gerard was the professor. We started to do some duo gigs and eventually I used his trio on my club dates.
H. Allen Williams: If you were to describe your style of jazz to someone who had never heard of jazz or you before, what adjectives would you use to engage them?
Leslie Lewis: Wow, this is a great question! I strive to make music that swings and has elements of the blues. So I guess I’d say the feel has a lilt or forward movement. It is toe-tapping! The melodies could be exciting, gritty, or they could be mellow and warm.
H. Allen Williams: How do you feel Midnight Sun differs from your previous recordings?
Leslie Lewis: Midnight Sun has more space incorporated into the arrangements. Sometimes the space is in the form of an extra bar in the melody or an added vamp between sections of the tune. We had a monthly gig with that band so we could play the arrangements and make adjustments as needed before we went into the studio.
H. Allen Williams: I noticed you do a bit of clinician work, what do you feel is the most important part of your program to inspire the next generation of jazz musicians?
Leslie Lewis: I feel the most important thing is for musicians to see themselves as artists. I believe that artists are responsible to bring something to the music. The only way to do that is to have lived with the material for enough time to understand it and have an opinion about what it is. It also means knowing how previous artists handled the music that they want to perform. The only reason to perform is because you are so drawn to the music that you must perform. Any other reason is all about ego and has no place on the bandstand. This is what I want young musicians to understand.
H. Allen Williams: What does the future hold for Leslie Lewis?
Leslie Lewis: Gerard and I are moving to Paris in the very near future. Paris has a history of loving and respecting jazz. We feel this will provide many new avenues for growth in our musical careers and in our personal lives as well. Beyond that who knows, we may eventually end up on the east coast!

INTERVIEW Leslie Lewis, Midnight Sun by: H. Allen Williams
Looking Forward
Leslie Lewis is the type of jazz vocalist that conveys the jazz language in a delivery style that harkens back to the be-bop era.  You truly hear the hours of hard work and study of the jazz language laced into every note she sings.  Her authenticity is immediate, but you also hear the evolution of her journey as each year passes and with each release. I have had the pleasure of hearing her previous releases; Of Two Minds, Keeper of the Flame and now Midnight Sun.  Like Lewis’ previous recordings, Midnight Sun features guest artists, in this case trombonist Joey Sellers and tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning and of course her longtime collaborator pianist (husband) Gerard Hagen,  Jerry Kalaf (drums) and Domenic Genova (bass).  The repertoire ranges from the American song book from George Gershwin and Cole Porter to Burt Bacharach and Paul McCartney, all with Lewis’ dead on rhythmic sensibilities and powerful vocal prowess.  Hagen and his trio are superb; this is truly a jazz offering worth exploring, and for the younger generation of aspiring vocalists, to truly use as a lesson in excellence, especially when studying the language of be-bop.I got a chance to interview Leslie right before her move to Paris; we spoke about her upbringing, the California Jazz scene versus the New York scene and her process for choosing material for her records. It was a delightful opportunity to get a closer look from her perspective.  H. Allen Williams: How do you feel your east coast upbringing influenced the type of jazz you love to perform? Leslie Lewis: My father grew up in New Jersey where he went to school with Sarah Vaughan. His love of jazz and jazz singers was a huge influence on me as grew up. We listened to all the great jazz artists, Ella, Sarah, Carmen, Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington. Being so close to New York gave us opportunities to hear many artists in all genres.
H. Allen Williams: Who would you say was your biggest influence musically growing up?Leslie Lewis: Cleo Laine’s “Live” at Carnegie Hall recording was an important influence on me. I loved her phrasing and scatting. I listened to that recording over and over. Anything Ella did was important. As a child I sang and loved all kinds of music, show tunes, R & B, pop music and standards. I wasn’t focused on jazz until later.
H. Allen Williams: How do you feel the California jazz scene differs from the New York scene?Leslie Lewis: Los Angeles is very spread out. At any given time there are a few clubs and performance spaces that will make a commitment feature jazz music. They usually come and go and another pops up somewhere else. Because of the distance from one club to the next it is difficult for the musicians to have a place to hang and develop a better sense of community. There are wonderful players and music presenters here who are working very hard to make it work and for that reason there will always be a jazz scene in L.A. Gerard and I were working in New York last Nov. and found the number of jazz clubs and opportunities to perform were considerably more than in Los Angeles. New York musicians might not feel this way but that was our impression.
H. Allen Williams: When choosing songs to record an album, what do you look for in a song, is it the lyric that influences you or is it the melody?Leslie Lewis: The first thing I consider is the melody. The material has to speak to me in some meaningful way. The changes are also important in that they support the melody in a way that leaves me some space to interpret the melody in my own way.
H. Allen Williams: Do you ever see yourself recording a completely original works album?Leslie Lewis: I can’t say no, but I’d have to find enough original material that spoke to me. If that were to happen I think it would be a lot of fun to make that record.
H. Allen Williams: How do you feel live performance influences the way you interpret a song?Leslie Lewis: In front of an audience the actress in me comes out. There is an energy in the room that is not present in a studio. Anything that one of the musicians plays can change the direction of the music and affect my performance. That is the beauty of music that is improvised and the thing that we as jazz musicians must access to let the audience feel that they are witnessing a special one-time event.
H. Allen Williams: Your husband (Gerard Hagen) is your pianist, how did the two of you meet?Leslie Lewis: I wanted to develop my piano chops and so I took a jazz piano class at a local college. Gerard was the professor. We started to do some duo gigs and eventually I used his trio on my club dates.
H. Allen Williams: If you were to describe your style of jazz to someone who had never heard of jazz or you before, what adjectives would you use to engage them?Leslie Lewis: Wow, this is a great question! I strive to make music that swings and has elements of the blues. So I guess I’d say the feel has a lilt or forward movement. It is toe-tapping! The melodies could be exciting, gritty, or they could be mellow and warm.
H. Allen Williams: How do you feel Midnight Sun differs from your previous recordings?Leslie Lewis: Midnight Sun has more space incorporated into the arrangements. Sometimes the space is in the form of an extra bar in the melody or an added vamp between sections of the tune. We had a monthly gig with that band so we could play the arrangements and make adjustments as needed before we went into the studio.
H. Allen Williams: I noticed you do a bit of clinician work, what do you feel is the most important part of your program to inspire the next generation of jazz musicians?Leslie Lewis: I feel the most important thing is for musicians to see themselves as artists. I believe that artists are responsible to bring something to the music. The only way to do that is to have lived with the material for enough time to understand it and have an opinion about what it is. It also means knowing how previous artists handled the music that they want to perform. The only reason to perform is because you are so drawn to the music that you must perform. Any other reason is all about ego and has no place on the bandstand. This is what I want young musicians to understand.
H. Allen Williams: What does the future hold for Leslie Lewis?Leslie Lewis: Gerard and I are moving to Paris in the very near future. Paris has a history of loving and respecting jazz. We feel this will provide many new avenues for growth in our musical careers and in our personal lives as well. Beyond that who knows, we may eventually end up on the east coast!

"Midnight Sun" Cadence Magazine

 

Leslie Lewis and the Gerard Hagen Trio are reviewed by Cadence Magazine
LESLIE LEWIS
MIDNIGHT SUN
SURF COVE JAZZ 102
Love Me Or Leave Me / Midnight Sun / It's All Right With Me / A House
Is Not A Home / Lover Come Back To Me / My Love / I Believe In You /
The Man I Love / Where Or When.    50:30.
Leslie Lewis, vcl; Gerard Hagen, p, arr; Domenic Genova, b; Jerry
Kalaf, d; "Guest  Artists" -  Chuck Manning, ts; Joey Sellers, tbn.
May-June 2011, Glendale, CA.
   A complete pleasure: Leslie Lewis' deep, grainy Jazz voice with
husband Gerard's arrangements
providing the inventive settings that frame her nuanced phrasing of
some well chosen lyrics.  The solid rhythm trio, held over from her
previous release ( 4/11, p. 158 ), is augmented by Chuck Manning and
Joey Sellers on tenor and trombone respectively.  Hagen has given the
two "guests" ample room in which to bristle and solo in bop mode and
so they do.  From the rocking swing of the opening "Love Me," to an
elegiacally somber "When Or Where," the program knits together with
the sort of natural ease we've come to expect from sessions that carry
forth in the grand tradition of straight ahead Jazz vocalizing.  This
is the Leslie Lewis/Gerard Hagen team's third time to the post and
their very best yet.
                                                           
Alan Bargebuhr, May 4, 2012

Leslie Lewis and the Gerard Hagen Trio are reviewed by Cadence Magazine
LESLIE LEWIS
MIDNIGHT SUN
SURF COVE JAZZ 102

Love Me Or Leave Me / Midnight Sun / It's All Right With Me / A HouseIs Not A Home / Lover Come Back To Me / My Love / I Believe In You /The Man I Love / Where Or When.    50:30.Leslie Lewis, vcl; Gerard Hagen, p, arr; Domenic Genova, b; JerryKalaf, d; "Guest  Artists" -  Chuck Manning, ts; Joey Sellers, tbn.May-June 2011, Glendale, CA.


   A complete pleasure: Leslie Lewis' deep, grainy Jazz voice withhusband Gerard's arrangementsproviding the inventive settings that frame her nuanced phrasing ofsome well chosen lyrics.  The solid rhythm trio, held over from herprevious release ( 4/11, p. 158 ), is augmented by Chuck Manning andJoey Sellers on tenor and trombone respectively.  Hagen has given thetwo "guests" ample room in which to bristle and solo in bop mode andso they do.  From the rocking swing of the opening "Love Me," to anelegiacally somber "When Or Where," the program knits together withthe sort of natural ease we've come to expect from sessions that carryforth in the grand tradition of straight ahead Jazz vocalizing.  Thisis the Leslie Lewis/Gerard Hagen team's third time to the post andtheir very best yet.                                                           

Alan Bargebuhr, May 4, 2012

"Midnight Sun" THE BORDERLAND

 

Leslie Lewis and the Gerard Hagen Trio are reviewed by THE BORDERLAND 
by:  John M. Peters
Leslie Lewis With the Gerard Hagen Trio - Midnight Sun (Surf Cove Jazz SCJ102)
When it comes to jazz vocals there is nothing more intimate and direct than a vocalist with a trio or quartet backing. That is the case here with vocalist Leslie Lewis and her new album Midnight Sun. The nine tracks consist of a mixture of songs by jazz and pop composers, and these disparate sources bed in together nicely thanks to the musicianship of the Gerard Hagen Trio, who offer just the right amount of smooth jazz backing to make this a very pleasurable album to listen to. The trio is Gerard Hagen - piano, Domenic Genova - bass, Jerry Kalaf - drums, with guests Chuck Manning and Joey Sellers on tenor sax and trombone respectively. 
With composers of the calibre of Lionel Hampton, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, George Gershwin and Rodgers & Hart on the album mixed with the wondrous voice of Ms Lewis and you have something very special indeed. Leslie Lewis's voice seems to span several octaves and she can go from a growl to soaring heights within the same breath. And yet at all times, her voice is full of emotion and making that connection with the listener. She so effortlessly outclasses most of the so-called pop divas you wonder why one of the major labels hasn't signed her up. The nine tracks are: Love Me Or Leave Me, Midnight Sun, It's All right With Me, A House Is Not A Home, Lover Come Back To Me, My Love, I Believe In You, The Man I Love, Where Or When. Midnight Sun is that rare artefact, a near perfect vocal jazz album, and if you are still listening to Ella, Sarah and Dinah might I recommend that you add Leslie to that canon and listen to Midnight Sun. Highly Recommended.
For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: 
http://www.surfcovejazz.com/

Leslie Lewis and the Gerard Hagen Trio are reviewed by THE BORDERLAND 
by:  John M. Peters
Leslie Lewis With the Gerard Hagen Trio - Midnight Sun (Surf Cove Jazz SCJ102)
When it comes to jazz vocals there is nothing more intimate and direct than a vocalist with a trio or quartet backing. That is the case here with vocalist Leslie Lewis and her new album Midnight Sun. The nine tracks consist of a mixture of songs by jazz and pop composers, and these disparate sources bed in together nicely thanks to the musicianship of the Gerard Hagen Trio, who offer just the right amount of smooth jazz backing to make this a very pleasurable album to listen to. The trio is Gerard Hagen - piano, Domenic Genova - bass, Jerry Kalaf - drums, with guests Chuck Manning and Joey Sellers on tenor sax and trombone respectively. 
With composers of the calibre of Lionel Hampton, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, George Gershwin and Rodgers & Hart on the album mixed with the wondrous voice of Ms Lewis and you have something very special indeed. Leslie Lewis's voice seems to span several octaves and she can go from a growl to soaring heights within the same breath. And yet at all times, her voice is full of emotion and making that connection with the listener. She so effortlessly outclasses most of the so-called pop divas you wonder why one of the major labels hasn't signed her up. The nine tracks are: Love Me Or Leave Me, Midnight Sun, It's All right With Me, A House Is Not A Home, Lover Come Back To Me, My Love, I Believe In You, The Man I Love, Where Or When. Midnight Sun is that rare artefact, a near perfect vocal jazz album, and if you are still listening to Ella, Sarah and Dinah might I recommend that you add Leslie to that canon and listen to Midnight Sun. Highly Recommended.
For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: 
http://www.surfcovejazz.com/

"Midnight Sun" JAZZMUSIC by: CJ Bond

 

Leslie Lewis is reviewed by Jazz Music
JAZZMUSIC
by:  CJ Bond
Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio: Midnight Sun
Year: 2012
Style: Jazz Vocal
Label: Surf Cove Jazz
Musicians: Leslie Lewis - vocals; Gerard Hagen - piano; Domenic Genova - bass; Jerry Kalaf - drums. Guest Artists: Chuck Manning - tenor saxophone; Joey Sellers - trombone.
CD Review: You hear song stylist Leslie Lewis, and immediately whisper to yourself "where has she been all this time?" That's the kind of power heard in her singing. That's the kind of voice she has! It is well shaped and rich, like Monroe's lips and equally unforgettable. This native of East Orange, New Jersey already has received critical acclaim for two other recordings (Of Two Minds: 2008; Keeper Of The Flame: 2010). On her newest CD: "Midnight Sun," She and husband, pianist Gerard Hagen, again collaborate to produce a date of outstanding fare.   
Assisting this sparkling duo in this effort are bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf, who officially round out the Gerard Hagen Trio. For added vivacity, vault and harmonic equity, tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning and trombonist Joey Sellers appear as guest artists.
Domenic Genova is a well seasoned and traveled musician, his credits include collaborations with Lori Lieberman, John Devlin, Seals & Crofts, Kim Karnes, Patti LaBelle, Brian Mann, Susan Krebs, Al Stewart, David Benoit, Pat Boone and several others. Like Genova, drummer/composer Jerry Kalaf has also worked with many well known artists: Max Highstein, Joe Hackney, Eric Von Essen, Louis Durra, Susan Krebs, Gregory Kahn and others.
Guest artists tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning and trombonist Joey Sellers possess stellar musical resumes of their own. Manning, generally regarded as a stalwart of the Los Angeles jazz scene, is considered a brilliantly inventive tenor player; gorgeous with the ballad, yet quite capable of blowing with remarkable post-bop frenzy, connecting lines that are always fresh and vibrant. Jazz critic Leonard Feather summed up Manning thus: "Chuck has a bold sound and a keen rhythmic sense."
Trombonist Joey Sellers grew up in Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University. He has held the chair of Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, and more recently he assumed the role of Director of Jazz Studies at Saddleback College in Southern California, teaching improvisation, jazz ensembles, composition, and jazz history. He has played and recorded with several internationally recognized jazz musicians, including Kenny Wheeler, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Conrad Herwig, Joe LaBarbera, Dave Liebman, Lew Tabackan, Bobby Shew, and Bruce Fowler.
Gerard Hagen pianist/arranger/producer a native of Bismarck, North Dakota, has led the trio since 1995. He has overseen the popularity and international acclaim of the group's recordings (Far Horizons: Resurgent Music; Stay Tuned: Sea Breeze Jazz Records). He holds a Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Music, and is an associate professor of jazz piano at Saddleback College in Southern California.
In addition to the enviable talent and wide ranging experience of the players on "Midnight Sun," are the added striking features of music selections of popular songs; standards; Broadway show tunes; jazz classics and musicals mined from the formidable catalogs of the great songwriters, composers and lyricists ranging from Walter Donaldson & Gus Kahn, Sonny Burke and Lionel Hampton, to Cole Porter, Oscar Hammerstein & Sigmund Romberg to Lennon McCartney, Frank Loesser and George and Ira Gershwin. There are 3/4 of a dozen of these gems from the wonder years 1928 through 1973; Leslie Lewis sets then up like nine gold pins, and hits them head on for strikes; the hard way; one dynamite hit at a time.
Lewis and the band jump with obvious relish into Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn's 1928 hit (Love Me Or Leave Me.) It is evident that Lewis listened closely to Nina Simone's definitive 1967 version from her album "Forever Young, Gifted and Black," because she (Lewis) reprises much of Simone's straight forward, self assurance in her delivery and adorns the lyric with flashes of Ms. Simone's gilt edged phrasing. Tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning and trombonist Joey Sellers establish their bona fides promptly with swinging solos, while pianist Gerard Hagen shows a keen discernment of the melody in a solo that tactfully, is never overplayed.
Lewis shows that she has the 'chops' to tackle difficult songs and lyrics, and they are two that stand out on the CD. The title track (Midnight Sun) the 1947 jazz standard, written by Sonny Burke and Lionel Hampton, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer is stamped with a degree of difficulty matching that of another jazz standard, Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life"; two songs that have reduced many a vocalist to a sweaty wreck. No where has the 'aurora borealis' appeared so wonderfully intriguing and spellbinding than under the command of Leslie Lewis' formidable pitch range, and Dominic Genova's infectious, embracing, memorable bass figures. Lewis also treats the Paul and Linda McCartney 1973 'love song' (My Love) to her own stirring interpretation which Manning's tenor follows with a tender, purposeful solo, as Hagen's well planted piano notes nail every ounce of emotion securely in place.
But it's Cole Porter's 1953 popular song (It's Alright With Me) which showcases the magic that is possible when Lewis and Hagen get down to it. He the astute pianist/arranger, and she the consummate vocalist/interpreter, able to bring the lyric alive with realism, and warble between 3/4 and 4/4 time effortlessly and authoritatively without sacrificing form or losing place. This ability to change time without strain extends into another Lewis' signal strengths; the facility of changing moods with conviction, now demonstrated throughout the 1964 Burt Bacharach, Hal David plaintive, poignant, pathos-encrusted (A House Is Not A Home).
Lewis and the Gerard Hagen trio plus guests artists' treatment of Oscar Hammerstein, Sigmund Romberg's 1928 popular song (Lover Come Back To Me) and George and Ira Gershwin's 1924 standard (The Man I love) are music clinics of the highest order. Lewis' singing on these to selections can best be described as 'boldly silken' and is augmented by inventive melodic interplay between saxophonist Manning, and trombonist Sellers. If there is a Lewis tour de force performance, it appears on "The Man I Love" on which she strips away all pretense and embraces the lyric with an evocative display of raw vocal power that stands lighthouse-tall against the impeccable time keeping of drummer Jerry Kalaf, and another signature tenor solo, in the tradition of Lester Young, from Chuck Manning.
"Midnight Sun" is balanced by two memorable show tunes; Frank Loesser's (I believe In You), from the 1961 Broadway show "How To Succeed In Business Without ReallyTrying" and Lorenz Hart, Richard Rogers' (Where Or When), from the 1937 musical "Babes In Arms". It is Gerard Hagen's measured, thoughtful, logical piano that presents the perfect counter for Lewis' powerful vocal thrust. A lot of the influence of pianist Tommy Flanagan, who was the accompanist for singer Ella Fitzgerald for more than a decade, can be heard in Hagen's unobtrusive and exceptional melodic swing, harmonic sophistication and bluesy inventions. Hagen's unflappable piano demeanor through the date, with its warm colors, refined architecture and understated, easy swing unquestionably add solid currency to this exceptional date.
Where has Leslie Lewis been 'all this time?'  She and her husband have been living in Laguna Beach, CA and recently moved to Paris in July of 2012.  But another question looms: What will Leslie Lewis and the Gerard Hagen trio do in the future to top "Midnight Sun?"
Track Listing: Love Me Or Leave Me; Midnight Sun; It's Alright With Me; A House Is Not A Home; Lover Come Back To Me; My Love; I Believe In You; The Man I Love; Where Or When.
Produced by Gerard Hagen.
All arangements by Gerard Hagen
Recorded by Talley Sherwood at Tritone Studio, Glendale CA
Mixed and Mastered by Jerry Kalaf at Studio J, Los Angeles CA
Posted 5 days ago by Kari Gaffney
Labels: Leslie Lewis Jazz Critics Reviews Jazz Review Gerard Hagen Midnight Sun Jazz Press Jazz Promotions Kari-On Productions
   

Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio: Midnight Sun Year: 2012
Style: Jazz Vocal
Label: Surf Cove Jazz
Musicians: Leslie Lewis - vocals; Gerard Hagen - piano; Domenic Genova - bass; Jerry Kalaf - drums. Guest Artists: Chuck Manning - tenor saxophone; Joey Sellers - trombone.

CD Review: You hear song stylist Leslie Lewis, and immediately whisper to yourself "where has she been all this time?" That's the kind of power heard in her singing. That's the kind of voice she has! It is well shaped and rich, like Monroe's lips and equally unforgettable. This native of East Orange, New Jersey already has received critical acclaim for two other recordings (Of Two Minds: 2008; Keeper Of The Flame: 2010). On her newest CD: "Midnight Sun," She and husband, pianist Gerard Hagen, again collaborate to produce a date of outstanding fare.   
Assisting this sparkling duo in this effort are bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf, who officially round out the Gerard Hagen Trio. For added vivacity, vault and harmonic equity, tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning and trombonist Joey Sellers appear as guest artists.
Domenic Genova is a well seasoned and traveled musician, his credits include collaborations with Lori Lieberman, John Devlin, Seals & Crofts, Kim Karnes, Patti LaBelle, Brian Mann, Susan Krebs, Al Stewart, David Benoit, Pat Boone and several others. Like Genova, drummer/composer Jerry Kalaf has also worked with many well known artists: Max Highstein, Joe Hackney, Eric Von Essen, Louis Durra, Susan Krebs, Gregory Kahn and others.
Guest artists tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning and trombonist Joey Sellers possess stellar musical resumes of their own. Manning, generally regarded as a stalwart of the Los Angeles jazz scene, is considered a brilliantly inventive tenor player; gorgeous with the ballad, yet quite capable of blowing with remarkable post-bop frenzy, connecting lines that are always fresh and vibrant. Jazz critic Leonard Feather summed up Manning thus: "Chuck has a bold sound and a keen rhythmic sense."
Trombonist Joey Sellers grew up in Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University. He has held the chair of Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, and more recently he assumed the role of Director of Jazz Studies at Saddleback College in Southern California, teaching improvisation, jazz ensembles, composition, and jazz history. He has played and recorded with several internationally recognized jazz musicians, including Kenny Wheeler, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Conrad Herwig, Joe LaBarbera, Dave Liebman, Lew Tabackan, Bobby Shew, and Bruce Fowler.Gerard Hagen pianist/arranger/producer a native of Bismarck, North Dakota, has led the trio since 1995. He has overseen the popularity and international acclaim of the group's recordings (Far Horizons: Resurgent Music; Stay Tuned: Sea Breeze Jazz Records). He holds a Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Music, and is an associate professor of jazz piano at Saddleback College in Southern California.
In addition to the enviable talent and wide ranging experience of the players on "Midnight Sun," are the added striking features of music selections of popular songs; standards; Broadway show tunes; jazz classics and musicals mined from the formidable catalogs of the great songwriters, composers and lyricists ranging from Walter Donaldson & Gus Kahn, Sonny Burke and Lionel Hampton, to Cole Porter, Oscar Hammerstein & Sigmund Romberg to Lennon McCartney, Frank Loesser and George and Ira Gershwin. There are 3/4 of a dozen of these gems from the wonder years 1928 through 1973; Leslie Lewis sets then up like nine gold pins, and hits them head on for strikes; the hard way; one dynamite hit at a time.
Lewis and the band jump with obvious relish into Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn's 1928 hit (Love Me Or Leave Me.) It is evident that Lewis listened closely to Nina Simone's definitive 1967 version from her album "Forever Young, Gifted and Black," because she (Lewis) reprises much of Simone's straight forward, self assurance in her delivery and adorns the lyric with flashes of Ms. Simone's gilt edged phrasing. Tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning and trombonist Joey Sellers establish their bona fides promptly with swinging solos, while pianist Gerard Hagen shows a keen discernment of the melody in a solo that tactfully, is never overplayed.
Lewis shows that she has the 'chops' to tackle difficult songs and lyrics, and they are two that stand out on the CD. The title track (Midnight Sun) the 1947 jazz standard, written by Sonny Burke and Lionel Hampton, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer is stamped with a degree of difficulty matching that of another jazz standard, Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life"; two songs that have reduced many a vocalist to a sweaty wreck. No where has the 'aurora borealis' appeared so wonderfully intriguing and spellbinding than under the command of Leslie Lewis' formidable pitch range, and Dominic Genova's infectious, embracing, memorable bass figures. Lewis also treats the Paul and Linda McCartney 1973 'love song' (My Love) to her own stirring interpretation which Manning's tenor follows with a tender, purposeful solo, as Hagen's well planted piano notes nail every ounce of emotion securely in place.
But it's Cole Porter's 1953 popular song (It's Alright With Me) which showcases the magic that is possible when Lewis and Hagen get down to it. He the astute pianist/arranger, and she the consummate vocalist/interpreter, able to bring the lyric alive with realism, and warble between 3/4 and 4/4 time effortlessly and authoritatively without sacrificing form or losing place. This ability to change time without strain extends into another Lewis' signal strengths; the facility of changing moods with conviction, now demonstrated throughout the 1964 Burt Bacharach, Hal David plaintive, poignant, pathos-encrusted (A House Is Not A Home).
Lewis and the Gerard Hagen trio plus guests artists' treatment of Oscar Hammerstein, Sigmund Romberg's 1928 popular song (Lover Come Back To Me) and George and Ira Gershwin's 1924 standard (The Man I love) are music clinics of the highest order. Lewis' singing on these to selections can best be described as 'boldly silken' and is augmented by inventive melodic interplay between saxophonist Manning, and trombonist Sellers. If there is a Lewis tour de force performance, it appears on "The Man I Love" on which she strips away all pretense and embraces the lyric with an evocative display of raw vocal power that stands lighthouse-tall against the impeccable time keeping of drummer Jerry Kalaf, and another signature tenor solo, in the tradition of Lester Young, from Chuck Manning.
"Midnight Sun" is balanced by two memorable show tunes; Frank Loesser's (I believe In You), from the 1961 Broadway show "How To Succeed In Business Without ReallyTrying" and Lorenz Hart, Richard Rogers' (Where Or When), from the 1937 musical "Babes In Arms". It is Gerard Hagen's measured, thoughtful, logical piano that presents the perfect counter for Lewis' powerful vocal thrust. A lot of the influence of pianist Tommy Flanagan, who was the accompanist for singer Ella Fitzgerald for more than a decade, can be heard in Hagen's unobtrusive and exceptional melodic swing, harmonic sophistication and bluesy inventions. Hagen's unflappable piano demeanor through the date, with its warm colors, refined architecture and understated, easy swing unquestionably add solid currency to this exceptional date.
Where has Leslie Lewis been 'all this time?'  She and her husband have been living in Laguna Beach, CA and recently moved to Paris in July of 2012.  But another question looms: What will Leslie Lewis and the Gerard Hagen trio do in the future to top "Midnight Sun?"
Track Listing: Love Me Or Leave Me; Midnight Sun; It's Alright With Me; A House Is Not A Home; Lover Come Back To Me; My Love; I Believe In You; The Man I Love; Where Or When.
Produced by Gerard Hagen.All arangements by Gerard HagenRecorded by Talley Sherwood at Tritone Studio, Glendale CAMixed and Mastered by Jerry Kalaf at Studio J, Los Angeles CAPosted 5 days ago by Kari GaffneyLabels: Leslie Lewis Jazz Critics Reviews Jazz Review Gerard Hagen Midnight Sun Jazz Press Jazz Promotions Kari-On Productions   

"Midnight Sun" Yahoo

 

LESLIE LEWIS and the GERARD HAGEN TRIO are reviewed by YAHOO!
by:  Susan Frances
Midnight Sun, the new recording from vocalist Leslie Lewis and her band  featuring her husband Gerard Hagen on piano is their third release from Surf Cove Jazz. The album consists of interpretations of familiar pop and jazz tunes some of which were written by Cole Porter, Paul McCartney, and George and Ira Gershwin. Joining the regular line up of bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf are special guests Joey Sellers on trombone and Chuck Manning on tenor saxophone. The horns are a wonderful addition to Lewis' rapport with her band hugging her deep toned register and acting as a cushiony berth for her vocal protractions.
Lewis and her band are all about making beautiful music or beaux jazz as she has inspired with her previous recordings, Of Two Minds in 2008 and Keeper of the Flame in 2010. She does it once again on Midnight Sun with waves of trembling horn twits in her remake of Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn's "Love Me or Leave Me" as Lewis' vocals gleam with the warmth of a nightingale. The slow and sensual swagger of her vocals along the title track, a jazz standard written by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke, engulfs the listener in soothing spores while the dulcet resonance of her voice in Cole Porter's "It's Alright with Me" arouse a reflective mood. The serpentine horns and gently rattling ripple of the piano keys in "A House Is Not A Home," penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, are molded into a meaningful melody by Lewis' vocals which morph into breathy lilt in Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein's "Lover Come Back to Me" as the elevating patterns of the keys gel into the pacifying rivulets.
Paul McCartney and Wings hit song "My Love" is fashioned with soft smoldering vocals, which shift to a jaunty sprint in "I Believe in You." Lewis is a natural when it comes to invoking a sensual voicing, even burlesque-like, which she applies to George and Ira Gershwin's "The Man I Love" as her 
vocals caress the melodic curves then change course in Richard Rodgers and Carolyn Hart's "Where or When" to a lulling riff.
Practicing the art of making beautiful music, Leslie Lewis and her band are masters of the art form. Midnight Sun is garnished with all the beauty of torchlight artistry as Lewis endears audiences with a sensual voicing which leave listeners with the impression that a dreamy state of existence is in their 
grasp. 
Musicians: 
Leslie Lewis - vocals, Gerard Hagen - piano, Domenic Genova - bass, Jerry Kalaf - drums, Joey Sellers - trombone, Chuck Manning - tenor saxophone
Tracklisting: Love Me or Leave Me, Midnight Sun, It's Alright With Me, A House Is Not A Home, Love Come Back to Me, My Love, I Believe in You, The Man I Love, Where or When

LESLIE LEWIS and the GERARD HAGEN TRIO are reviewed by YAHOO!

by:  Susan Frances
Midnight Sun, the new recording from vocalist Leslie Lewis and her band  featuring her husband Gerard Hagen on piano is their third release from Surf Cove Jazz. The album consists of interpretations of familiar pop and jazz tunes some of which were written by Cole Porter, Paul McCartney, and George and Ira Gershwin. Joining the regular line up of bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf are special guests Joey Sellers on trombone and Chuck Manning on tenor saxophone. The horns are a wonderful addition to Lewis' rapport with her band hugging her deep toned register and acting as a cushiony berth for her vocal protractions.
Lewis and her band are all about making beautiful music or beaux jazz as she has inspired with her previous recordings, Of Two Minds in 2008 and Keeper of the Flame in 2010. She does it once again on Midnight Sun with waves of trembling horn twits in her remake of Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn's "Love Me or Leave Me" as Lewis' vocals gleam with the warmth of a nightingale. The slow and sensual swagger of her vocals along the title track, a jazz standard written by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke, engulfs the listener in soothing spores while the dulcet resonance of her voice in Cole Porter's "It's Alright with Me" arouse a reflective mood. The serpentine horns and gently rattling ripple of the piano keys in "A House Is Not A Home," penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, are molded into a meaningful melody by Lewis' vocals which morph into breathy lilt in Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein's "Lover Come Back to Me" as the elevating patterns of the keys gel into the pacifying rivulets.
Paul McCartney and Wings hit song "My Love" is fashioned with soft smoldering vocals, which shift to a jaunty sprint in "I Believe in You." Lewis is a natural when it comes to invoking a sensual voicing, even burlesque-like, which she applies to George and Ira Gershwin's "The Man I Love" as her vocals caress the melodic curves then change course in Richard Rodgers and Carolyn Hart's "Where or When" to a lulling riff.
Practicing the art of making beautiful music, Leslie Lewis and her band are masters of the art form. Midnight Sun is garnished with all the beauty of torchlight artistry as Lewis endears audiences with a sensual voicing which leave listeners with the impression that a dreamy state of existence is in their grasp. 
Musicians: Leslie Lewis - vocals, Gerard Hagen - piano, Domenic Genova - bass, Jerry Kalaf - drums, Joey Sellers - trombone, Chuck Manning - tenor saxophoneTracklisting: Love Me or Leave Me, Midnight Sun, It's Alright With Me, A House Is Not A Home, Love Come Back to Me, My Love, I Believe in You, The Man I Love, Where or When

 

"Midnight Sun" ALL ABOUT JAZZ

 

ALL ABOUT JAZZ
By C. MICHAEL BAILEY, Published: April 7, 2012
Track review of "The Man I Love" 
Jazz singing does not so much require an obedient voice as a directed but free-spirited one. There are few vocalists who can pull off the elastic fireworks of a Betty Carter, Lisa Sokolov or Tierney Sutton and fewer still who should even try. East Coast-West Coast vocalist Leslie Lewis has a beautifully perfect alto voice for singing jazz. By tone alone, she can claim a well deserved corner of the jazz vocal map for herself, much in the same way Kate McGarry has done. There is a place for both kinds of singing. Lewis provides an effective vehicle for melody, unadorned by improvisation but fully expanded through phrasing.
Lewis spins out a potent and dense reading of the Gershwin brothers' "The Man I Love" on her Surf Cove recording, Midnight Sun. Fronting an empathetic tenor quartet, Lewis belts the old show tune with a gospel fervor, giving it enough momentum to break out of a traditional orbit and into a purely expressive one. Saxophonist Chuck Manning plays lyric foil to Lewis' deeply hued delivery, the duo carefully comforted by pianist Gerard Hagan's sensitive trio support.
Personnel: Leslie Lewis: vocals; Gerard Hagan: piano; Domenic Genova: bass; Jerry Kalaf: drums; Chuck Manning: tenor saxophone.
Record Label: Surf Cove Jazz


ALL ABOUT JAZZ
By C. MICHAEL BAILEY, Published: April 7, 2012

Track review of "The Man I Love" 
Jazz singing does not so much require an obedient voice as a directed but free-spirited one. There are few vocalists who can pull off the elastic fireworks of a Betty Carter, Lisa Sokolov or Tierney Sutton and fewer still who should even try. East Coast-West Coast vocalist Leslie Lewis has a beautifully perfect alto voice for singing jazz. By tone alone, she can claim a well deserved corner of the jazz vocal map for herself, much in the same way Kate McGarry has done. There is a place for both kinds of singing. Lewis provides an effective vehicle for melody, unadorned by improvisation but fully expanded through phrasing.
Lewis spins out a potent and dense reading of the Gershwin brothers' "The Man I Love" on her Surf Cove recording, Midnight Sun. Fronting an empathetic tenor quartet, Lewis belts the old show tune with a gospel fervor, giving it enough momentum to break out of a traditional orbit and into a purely expressive one. Saxophonist Chuck Manning plays lyric foil to Lewis' deeply hued delivery, the duo carefully comforted by pianist Gerard Hagan's sensitive trio support.
Personnel: Leslie Lewis: vocals; Gerard Hagan: piano; Domenic Genova: bass; Jerry Kalaf: drums; Chuck Manning: tenor saxophone.
Record Label: Surf Cove Jazz

 

"Midnight Sun" Jazz Scene

 

JAZZ SCENE
by: George Fendel
Midnight Sun, Leslie Lewis, vocals. If you remember the hip and husky sound of singers like Chris Connor and June Christy, you’re quite likely to dig what’s happening with Lewis. As she did on her earlier recordings, she brings the “under the radar” but swinging Los Angeles pianist Gerard Hagen and his trio to the studio. They’re all joined by a couple of guests who add sugar and spice to the proceedings. Chuck Manning’s tenor and Joey Sellers’ trombone are heard generously, and most definitely add some musical muscle to the session. Lewis opts, mostly, for standard tunes. Winners include “Love Me or Leave Me,” “It’s Alright with Me,” “Lover Come Back to Me,” “The Man I Love” and “Where Or When.” Equally well sung, but not among my personal faves, are two pop tunes: the Beatles opus, “My Love,” and Burt Bacharach’s fluffy hit, “A House Is Not a Home.” Lewis’s smoky voice delivers the lyrics with the skill, phrasing and feeling of a dedicated jazz singer. And that’s just what she is! 
Surf Cove Jazz, 2012, 50:09.

JAZZ SCENE
by: George Fendel
Midnight Sun, Leslie Lewis, vocals. If you remember the hip and husky sound of singers like Chris Connor and June Christy, you’re quite likely to dig what’s happening with Lewis. As she did on her earlier recordings, she brings the “under the radar” but swinging Los Angeles pianist Gerard Hagen and his trio to the studio. They’re all joined by a couple of guests who add sugar and spice to the proceedings. Chuck Manning’s tenor and Joey Sellers’ trombone are heard generously, and most definitely add some musical muscle to the session. Lewis opts, mostly, for standard tunes. Winners include “Love Me or Leave Me,” “It’s Alright with Me,” “Lover Come Back to Me,” “The Man I Love” and “Where Or When.” Equally well sung, but not among my personal faves, are two pop tunes: the Beatles opus, “My Love,” and Burt Bacharach’s fluffy hit, “A House Is Not a Home.” Lewis’s smoky voice delivers the lyrics with the skill, phrasing and feeling of a dedicated jazz singer. And that’s just what she is! Surf Cove Jazz, 2012, 50:09.

 

"Midnight Sun" Critical Jazz

 

CRITICAL JAZZ
Brent Black
Leslie Lewis With The Gerard Hagen Trio Midnight Sun SCJ 2012
After spending one of  the more annoying days on the planet dealing with a New York City publicist that could not find big time with a road map and the socially self indulgent ramblings of a two bit piano player destined to be playing at a Holiday Inn near you, I am greeted by Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio. Initially considering leaving this release till I was fully recovered from my anger stroke, I threw caution to the wind and decided to see what Leslie Lewis had to offer.
Lewis has a nice rich tone, a cool swing and keen sense of phrasing that grabs your attention as is evident in the syncopated swing of "Love Me Or Leave Me" complete with a swinging tenor solo from Chuck Manning and a trombone solo from Joey Sellers to match. Gerard Hagen is the perfect accompanist for Lewis. The first call band is rounded out with bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf. The Burt Bacharach classic "A House Is Not A Home" is delivered with tenderness and sincerity and is a most impressive performance. The McCartney classic "My Love" could spell musical disaster for a lesser vocalist but the transition with soulful jazz sensibilities is built around an air of elegance and sophistication. The George and Ira Gershwin standard "The Man I Love" is perhaps the highlight of the release. A subtle ballad with intricate nuances that seem to give up something new with each subsequent spin of the disc.
Midnight Sun is a somewhat soulful take on standards both old and new. Walking the tightrope between old school and new cool and not missing a beat, Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio are the perfect end to an otherwise imperfect day. A nice textured riff on some timeless classics where Lewis is clearly in the drivers seat so simply sit back and enjoy the ride!
Tracks: Love Me Or Leave Me; Midnight Sun; It's Alright With Me; A House Is Not A Home; Lover Come Back To Me; My Love; I Believe In You; The Man I Love; Where Or When.
Personnel: Leslie Lewis: vocals; Gerard Hagen: piano; Domenic Genova: bass; Jerry Kalaf: drums; Chuck Manning: tenor saxophone; Joey Sellers: trombone.


CRITICAL JAZZ
Brent Black
Leslie Lewis With The Gerard Hagen Trio Midnight Sun SCJ 2012
After spending one of  the more annoying days on the planet dealing with a New York City publicist that could not find big time with a road map and the socially self indulgent ramblings of a two bit piano player destined to be playing at a Holiday Inn near you, I am greeted by Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio. Initially considering leaving this release till I was fully recovered from my anger stroke, I threw caution to the wind and decided to see what Leslie Lewis had to offer.
Lewis has a nice rich tone, a cool swing and keen sense of phrasing that grabs your attention as is evident in the syncopated swing of "Love Me Or Leave Me" complete with a swinging tenor solo from Chuck Manning and a trombone solo from Joey Sellers to match. Gerard Hagen is the perfect accompanist for Lewis. The first call band is rounded out with bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf. The Burt Bacharach classic "A House Is Not A Home" is delivered with tenderness and sincerity and is a most impressive performance. The McCartney classic "My Love" could spell musical disaster for a lesser vocalist but the transition with soulful jazz sensibilities is built around an air of elegance and sophistication. The George and Ira Gershwin standard "The Man I Love" is perhaps the highlight of the release. A subtle ballad with intricate nuances that seem to give up something new with each subsequent spin of the disc.
Midnight Sun is a somewhat soulful take on standards both old and new. Walking the tightrope between old school and new cool and not missing a beat, Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio are the perfect end to an otherwise imperfect day. A nice textured riff on some timeless classics where Lewis is clearly in the drivers seat so simply sit back and enjoy the ride!
Tracks: Love Me Or Leave Me; Midnight Sun; It's Alright With Me; A House Is Not A Home; Lover Come Back To Me; My Love; I Believe In You; The Man I Love; Where Or When.
Personnel: Leslie Lewis: vocals; Gerard Hagen: piano; Domenic Genova: bass; Jerry Kalaf: drums; Chuck Manning: tenor saxophone; Joey Sellers: trombone.

 

"Song For Leslie" The Borderland

 

DEC. 14
Gerard Hagen Trio is reviewed by The Borderland
THE BORDERLAND
by  John M. Peters
Gerard Hagen Trio - Song For Leslie (Surf Cove jazz SCJ103)
Pianist Gerard Hagen is no stranger to MusicWatch - this may be his first solo album received here but his albums with his wife, jazz vocalist Leslie Lewis, have always been rated highly. The album title is obviously a tribute to his wife, but this album is a showcase for him and his trio - Song For Leslie is purely instrumental throughout. While I wouldn't describe this album as 'smooth jazz', Mr Hagen's style is very smooth and assured - there are no jagged edges to the performances.
The interaction between the piano, drums and bass are deftly interwoven and sound remarkably confident - you can tell these musicians have been working together for a long time. The other musicians are: Dominic Genova - bass, and Jerry Kalaf - drums. Song For Leslie contains seven tracks, two tracks written by Gerard Hagen, two by Jerry Kalaf and the remainder covers of songs by Rodgers and Hart and Cole Porter. The titles are: My Romance, A Weaver Of Dreams, What Is This Thing Called Love?, Song For Leslie, Where Gerard?, Looking At The Despair Calendar, 464 Blues. I wouldn't call the music on this CD laid-back but it is reflective and the romance within is inferred, of course. 
The style and sound here harks back to the classic albums of pianists such as Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner - very easy on the ear and great for relaxing to. Recommended.
For more information about this artist, album and availability visit:
www.surfcovejazz.com

Gerard Hagen Trio is reviewed by The Borderland

THE BORDERLANDby  John M. Peters

Gerard Hagen Trio - Song For Leslie (Surf Cove jazz SCJ103)

Pianist Gerard Hagen is no stranger to MusicWatch - this may be his first solo album received here but his albums with his wife, jazz vocalist Leslie Lewis, have always been rated highly. The album title is obviously a tribute to his wife, but this album is a showcase for him and his trio - Song For Leslie is purely instrumental throughout. While I wouldn't describe this album as 'smooth jazz', Mr Hagen's style is very smooth and assured - there are no jagged edges to the performances.
The interaction between the piano, drums and bass are deftly interwoven and sound remarkably confident - you can tell these musicians have been working together for a long time. The other musicians are: Dominic Genova - bass, and Jerry Kalaf - drums. Song For Leslie contains seven tracks, two tracks written by Gerard Hagen, two by Jerry Kalaf and the remainder covers of songs by Rodgers and Hart and Cole Porter. The titles are: My Romance, A Weaver Of Dreams, What Is This Thing Called Love?, Song For Leslie, Where Gerard?, Looking At The Despair Calendar, 464 Blues. I wouldn't call the music on this CD laid-back but it is reflective and the romance within is inferred, of course. 
The style and sound here harks back to the classic albums of pianists such as Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner - very easy on the ear and great for relaxing to. Recommended.
For more information about this artist, album and availability visit:www.surfcovejazz.com

"Song For Leslie" This Is Books

 

OCT. 14
Gerard Hagen is reviewed by This is Books Music
THIS IS BOOKS MUSIC
by: John Book
REVIEW: Gerard Hagen Trio’s “Song For Leslie”
Jazz music comes in many variations and flavors, and if you are into music in a trio setting, there’s a vast world of music to choose from. If you want something new, check out the last project from the Gerard Hagen Trio. Song for Leslie (Surf Cove jazz) is perfect for any kind of mood, although a quick glance at the track listing will help form an aura of what to expect: “My Romance”, “Looking At The Despair Calendar”, “What Is This Thing Called Love?”, and “A Weaver Of Dreams”. Five of the seven tracks are familiar to jazz fans, with the other two being brand new Hagen compositions, including the very-fine title track, in honor of his wife. Hagen’s piano work has always been powerful, and this album shows what brings people to stores and concert venues. Very moving, and more than qualified to satisfy.


This is Books MusicTHIS IS BOOKS MUSICby: John Book

REVIEW: Gerard Hagen Trio’s “Song For Leslie”Jazz music comes in many variations and flavors, and if you are into music in a trio setting, there’s a vast world of music to choose from. If you want something new, check out the last project from the Gerard Hagen Trio. Song for Leslie (Surf Cove jazz) is perfect for any kind of mood, although a quick glance at the track listing will help form an aura of what to expect: “My Romance”, “Looking At The Despair Calendar”, “What Is This Thing Called Love?”, and “A Weaver Of Dreams”. Five of the seven tracks are familiar to jazz fans, with the other two being brand new Hagen compositions, including the very-fine title track, in honor of his wife. Hagen’s piano work has always been powerful, and this album shows what brings people to stores and concert venues. Very moving, and more than qualified to satisfy.

 

"Song For Leslie" Jazz Scene

 

OCT. 8
Gerard Hagen Trio is reviewed by Jazzscene
JAZZSCENE
by: George Fendel
 
Song For Leslie, Gerard Hagen, piano.
Prior to the arrival of this CD, I owned exactly two Hagen recordings, and I really liked both. That opinion is reinforced here with Hagen and his mates maneuvering right down the center of the mainstream highway. I know that this may be hard to believe, but this is a piano-bass-drums album. Think about it. That’s rare in this day and age when so many are tempted to play a couple tunes on Rhodes, or perhaps the bass player switches to the electric model. Or any of so many other ways to dilute a session. Not this time, as Gerard Hagen, a faculty member at a Los Angeles area university, swings with ease and elegance through seven selections. His trio is completed by Domenic Genova, bass, and Jerry Kalaf, drums. They give us three standards and four originals. You just know that nice things are going to happen when Hagen leads off with “My Romance.” Continuing that auspicious beginning, the trio then takes on “A Weaver of Dreams” and “What Is This Thing Called Love.” From the original bag, Kalaf’s tune, “Where’s Gerard?” had a “Waltz For Debbie” feel, and Hagen’s “464 Blues” is an intriguing stop and go vehicle, and a great closer. Hagen is a solid player with a gorgeous, sure touch. Do yourself a favor and check him out.
Surf Cove Jazz; 2012; appx. 51 minutes.

Gerard Hagen Trio is reviewed by Jazzscene

JAZZSCENE by: George Fendel


 Song For Leslie, Gerard Hagen, piano.Prior to the arrival of this CD, I owned exactly two Hagen recordings, and I really liked both. That opinion is reinforced here with Hagen and his mates maneuvering right down the center of the mainstream highway. I know that this may be hard to believe, but this is a piano-bass-drums album. Think about it. That’s rare in this day and age when so many are tempted to play a couple tunes on Rhodes, or perhaps the bass player switches to the electric model. Or any of so many other ways to dilute a session. Not this time, as Gerard Hagen, a faculty member at a Los Angeles area university, swings with ease and elegance through seven selections. His trio is completed by Domenic Genova, bass, and Jerry Kalaf, drums. They give us three standards and four originals. You just know that nice things are going to happen when Hagen leads off with “My Romance.” Continuing that auspicious beginning, the trio then takes on “A Weaver of Dreams” and “What Is This Thing Called Love.” From the original bag, Kalaf’s tune, “Where’s Gerard?” had a “Waltz For Debbie” feel, and Hagen’s “464 Blues” is an intriguing stop and go vehicle, and a great closer. Hagen is a solid player with a gorgeous, sure touch. Do yourself a favor and check him out.Surf Cove Jazz; 2012; appx. 51 minutes.

 

"Song For Leslie" Jazz Music by CJ Bond

 

Gerard Hagen Trio: Song For Leslie.
Jazz Music: C.J. Bond
Year: 2012
Style: Jazz Instrumental
Label: Surf Cove Jazz
Musicians: Gerard Hagen - piano; Domenic Genova - bass; Jerry Kalaf - drums.
CD Review: When last heard, Gerard Hagen and his trio were providing excellent backing for his talented wife, song stylist, Leslie Lewis, on her outstanding CD: Leslie Lewis with the Gerard Hagen Trio: Midnight Sun (Surf Cove Music, 2012). We learned then that Hagen's pianism could be 'measured, thoughtful, and logical,' and that the influence of pianists Tommy Flanagan and Bill Evans informed his 'exceptional melodic swing, harmonic sophistication, and bluesy inventions.' (jazmuzic.com). Well, nothing has changed! Except the mission; revealed in the CD's title: Gerard Hagen Trio: Song For Leslie. It seems quite natural, under the circumstances, that Hagen would embark on this poignant tribute inspired by a declarative, unambiguous lyric: "My romance doesn't have to have a moon in the sky/My romance doesn't need a blue lagoon standing by" (My Romance; Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart: 1935).
This mission is afforded credibility by Hagen's formidable musical pedigree (Bachelor and Master's degrees in Music; associate professor of jazz piano at Saddleback College in southern California), and given enormous lift by his substantial artistic coinage (His recordings have received critical acclaim in L.A. Times, L.A. Jazz Scene, Jazz Improv Magazine, Cadence Magazine, All About Jazz, All Music Guide And others). In the final analysis however, it is about love: one of the most basic human emotions. Indescribable. Euphoric. Powerful. Even though Hagen is quoted as saying  Song For Leslie, "was an opportunity to document some original music Jerry (Kalaf) and I had written as well as make a snapshot of where this group is after these many years of working together." What feeds love is music, or so thought William Shakespeare: "If music be the food of love, play on./Give me excess of it..." (Duke Orsino of Illyria: Twelfth Night). So Hagen plays on....
Turning to Jack Elliot & Victor Young's (A Weaver Of Dreams), Hagen imbues his instrumental interpretation with the melodic swing and harmonic sophistication that is his wont. Jerry Kalaf displays a fine sense of mood and timing, with impeccable brush work, underscoring the truth that the trio can bring a feeling of intimacy and presence to jazz like no other aggregation; and this trio is exceptional.
 Cole Porter's music seems to lend itself naturally to jazz, and many of his compositions have become jazz standards, with notable performances from many celebrated jazz singers, orchestras and musicians: Ella Fitzgerald - Night And Day; Artie Shaw Orchestra - Begin The Beguine; Miles Davis Quintet 1958 - Love For Sale; Nat Cole - Just One Of Those Things; Billy Eckstine - In The Still Of The Night; Bill Evans/Jim Hall - I've Got You Under My Skin, to name just a few. Cole Porter's music stands tall in the pantheon of popular music. Following in this tradition, Hagen extends the 'love' motif, reprising Cole Porter's 1929 popular song (What Is This Thing Called Love); a song whose chord progressions have formed the basis of jazz compositions by Tadd Dameron, Fats Navarro, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. Bassist Domenic Genova opening solo is deeply melodic and creates an emphatic harmonic root off which Hagen's chord selections, and Kalaf's rhythmic innovations develop the tune's natural, ingrained swing.
Hagen puts his prodigious composing talent on display for the centerpiece, and title track (Song For Leslie). A slightly angular piano passage opens the piece that flares into a thematic statement, building tension and force, that is released into a graceful, singing, melodic line, and inventive improvisation, with an architecture reminiscent of that of the late pianist William John "Bill" Evans. Hagen demonstrates wit, congruity, and penetrating discernment in his composing skills with a reprise of the initial thematic statement which he builds into a tense, satisfying climax to end the piece.
An exploration of the composing thought processes of bassist Jerry Kalaf (Where's Gerard?) reveals striking similarities to Hagen's approach. What emerges is thoughtful, lucid, and coherent, no doubt a consummation of 'these many years working together' (Hagen). Kalaf's other offering (Looking At The Despair Calendar) is intimate and tailored for the rhythmically independent style that is another of Hagen's dominant strengths. These two tunes bring a warm aesthetic balance to the date, and further affirm the 'motif' of caring, association, compassion, love, and celebration.
Those music enthusiasts drawn to jazz in the trio format, will do well to add Gerard Hagen Trio: Song For Leslie to their jazz music collection.
Track Listing: My Romance; A Weaver Of Dreams; What Is This Thing Called Love; A Song For Leslie; Where's Gerard?; Looking At The Despair Calendar; 464 Blues.

Gerard Hagen Trio: Song For Leslie.Jazz Music: C.J. Bond
Year: 2012
Style: Jazz Instrumental
Label: Surf Cove Jazz
Musicians: Gerard Hagen - piano; Domenic Genova - bass; Jerry Kalaf - drums.
CD Review: When last heard, Gerard Hagen and his trio were providing excellent backing for his talented wife, song stylist, Leslie Lewis, on her outstanding CD: Leslie Lewis with the Gerard Hagen Trio: Midnight Sun (Surf Cove Music, 2012). We learned then that Hagen's pianism could be 'measured, thoughtful, and logical,' and that the influence of pianists Tommy Flanagan and Bill Evans informed his 'exceptional melodic swing, harmonic sophistication, and bluesy inventions.' (jazmuzic.com). Well, nothing has changed! Except the mission; revealed in the CD's title: Gerard Hagen Trio: Song For Leslie. It seems quite natural, under the circumstances, that Hagen would embark on this poignant tribute inspired by a declarative, unambiguous lyric: "My romance doesn't have to have a moon in the sky/My romance doesn't need a blue lagoon standing by" (My Romance; Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart: 1935).
This mission is afforded credibility by Hagen's formidable musical pedigree (Bachelor and Master's degrees in Music; associate professor of jazz piano at Saddleback College in southern California), and given enormous lift by his substantial artistic coinage (His recordings have received critical acclaim in L.A. Times, L.A. Jazz Scene, Jazz Improv Magazine, Cadence Magazine, All About Jazz, All Music Guide And others). In the final analysis however, it is about love: one of the most basic human emotions. Indescribable. Euphoric. Powerful. Even though Hagen is quoted as saying  Song For Leslie, "was an opportunity to document some original music Jerry (Kalaf) and I had written as well as make a snapshot of where this group is after these many years of working together." What feeds love is music, or so thought William Shakespeare: "If music be the food of love, play on./Give me excess of it..." (Duke Orsino of Illyria: Twelfth Night). So Hagen plays on....
Turning to Jack Elliot & Victor Young's (A Weaver Of Dreams), Hagen imbues his instrumental interpretation with the melodic swing and harmonic sophistication that is his wont. Jerry Kalaf displays a fine sense of mood and timing, with impeccable brush work, underscoring the truth that the trio can bring a feeling of intimacy and presence to jazz like no other aggregation; and this trio is exceptional.
 Cole Porter's music seems to lend itself naturally to jazz, and many of his compositions have become jazz standards, with notable performances from many celebrated jazz singers, orchestras and musicians: Ella Fitzgerald - Night And Day; Artie Shaw Orchestra - Begin The Beguine; Miles Davis Quintet 1958 - Love For Sale; Nat Cole - Just One Of Those Things; Billy Eckstine - In The Still Of The Night; Bill Evans/Jim Hall - I've Got You Under My Skin, to name just a few. Cole Porter's music stands tall in the pantheon of popular music. Following in this tradition, Hagen extends the 'love' motif, reprising Cole Porter's 1929 popular song (What Is This Thing Called Love); a song whose chord progressions have formed the basis of jazz compositions by Tadd Dameron, Fats Navarro, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. Bassist Domenic Genova opening solo is deeply melodic and creates an emphatic harmonic root off which Hagen's chord selections, and Kalaf's rhythmic innovations develop the tune's natural, ingrained swing.
Hagen puts his prodigious composing talent on display for the centerpiece, and title track (Song For Leslie). A slightly angular piano passage opens the piece that flares into a thematic statement, building tension and force, that is released into a graceful, singing, melodic line, and inventive improvisation, with an architecture reminiscent of that of the late pianist William John "Bill" Evans. Hagen demonstrates wit, congruity, and penetrating discernment in his composing skills with a reprise of the initial thematic statement which he builds into a tense, satisfying climax to end the piece.
An exploration of the composing thought processes of bassist Jerry Kalaf (Where's Gerard?) reveals striking similarities to Hagen's approach. What emerges is thoughtful, lucid, and coherent, no doubt a consummation of 'these many years working together' (Hagen). Kalaf's other offering (Looking At The Despair Calendar) is intimate and tailored for the rhythmically independent style that is another of Hagen's dominant strengths. These two tunes bring a warm aesthetic balance to the date, and further affirm the 'motif' of caring, association, compassion, love, and celebration.
Those music enthusiasts drawn to jazz in the trio format, will do well to add Gerard Hagen Trio: Song For Leslie to their jazz music collection.
Track Listing: My Romance; A Weaver Of Dreams; What Is This Thing Called Love; A Song For Leslie; Where's Gerard?; Looking At The Despair Calendar; 464 Blues.

 

"Song For Leslie" Critical Jazz

 

SEPT. 2
Gerard Hagen Trio is reviewed by Critical Jazz
CRITICAL JAZZ
by:  Brent Black
Gerard Hagen Trio Song For Leslie Surf Cove Jazz 2012
To love what you do is the best...to do it with someone you love has got to be even better! I wouldn't know being a narcissist comes with the job description here so I can only guess.
Gerard Hagen and his trio are rounded out with Domenic Genova on bass and Jerry Kalaf on drums. Song For Leslie which hits the streets on October 23, 2012 is the result of Hagen's desire to document his trio one more time before he and his wife/vocalist Leslie Hagen leave for Europe. Hagen's trio has two prior recordings under their belt but while working as his wife's music director Gerard Hagen of course uses his own trio as the rhythm section for their work together.
Song For Leslie is a personal snapshot for Gerard Hagen, a moment in time with some original tunes and some timeless standards to measure themselves and how far they have come these many years as the trio originated in 1998. Standards included here are the Rodgers and Hart classic "My Romance" along with Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" and "A Weaver Of Dreams" from Jack Elliot and Victor Young. The remaining four tunes on the release are either Hagen originals or penned by drummer Jerry Kalaf.
Hagen is as formidable a composer as he is instrumentalist. "Song For Leslie" which was originally penned with his wedding to Leslie in mind. "464 Blues" gives a natural inclination for a true blues feel. Faking a blues tune doesn't work and Gerard Hagen has little to worry about with this infectious number. "Looking At The Despair Calendar" is a poignant all most brooding ballad with a captivating bridge. Hagen is an accomplished composer and arranger and his skills are testament to that fact on this recording. There is a bitter-sweet melancholy that seems to flow within significant portions of this recording that actually lend themselves well to the connectivity needed with virtually any audience. For Gerard Hagen this is not merely a goodbye to his trio but perhaps more appropriately a musical see you later! A sonic celebration of new adventures and past triumphs works well here. An engaging recording that any jazz piano fan would appreciate!
Tracks: My Romance; A Weaver Of Dreams; What Is This Thing Called Love; Song For Leslie; Where's Gerard?; Looking At The Despair Calendar; 464 Blues.
Personnel: Gerard Hagen: piano; Domenic Genova: bass; Jerry Kalaf: drums.


Gerard Hagen Trio is reviewed by Critical Jazz

CRITICAL JAZZby:  Brent Black

Gerard Hagen Trio Song For Leslie Surf Cove Jazz 2012

To love what you do is the best...to do it with someone you love has got to be even better! I wouldn't know being a narcissist comes with the job description here so I can only guess.
Gerard Hagen and his trio are rounded out with Domenic Genova on bass and Jerry Kalaf on drums. Song For Leslie which hits the streets on October 23, 2012 is the result of Hagen's desire to document his trio one more time before he and his wife/vocalist Leslie Hagen leave for Europe. Hagen's trio has two prior recordings under their belt but while working as his wife's music director Gerard Hagen of course uses his own trio as the rhythm section for their work together.
Song For Leslie is a personal snapshot for Gerard Hagen, a moment in time with some original tunes and some timeless standards to measure themselves and how far they have come these many years as the trio originated in 1998. Standards included here are the Rodgers and Hart classic "My Romance" along with Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" and "A Weaver Of Dreams" from Jack Elliot and Victor Young. The remaining four tunes on the release are either Hagen originals or penned by drummer Jerry Kalaf.
Hagen is as formidable a composer as he is instrumentalist. "Song For Leslie" which was originally penned with his wedding to Leslie in mind. "464 Blues" gives a natural inclination for a true blues feel. Faking a blues tune doesn't work and Gerard Hagen has little to worry about with this infectious number. "Looking At The Despair Calendar" is a poignant all most brooding ballad with a captivating bridge. Hagen is an accomplished composer and arranger and his skills are testament to that fact on this recording. There is a bitter-sweet melancholy that seems to flow within significant portions of this recording that actually lend themselves well to the connectivity needed with virtually any audience. For Gerard Hagen this is not merely a goodbye to his trio but perhaps more appropriately a musical see you later! A sonic celebration of new adventures and past triumphs works well here. An engaging recording that any jazz piano fan would appreciate!
Tracks: My Romance; A Weaver Of Dreams; What Is This Thing Called Love; Song For Leslie; Where's Gerard?; Looking At The Despair Calendar; 464 Blues.
Personnel: Gerard Hagen: piano; Domenic Genova: bass; Jerry Kalaf: drums.

 

"Keeper Of The Flame" Jazz Times

Jazz Times 09/25/10  •  Albums  •  By Wilbert Sostre
CD Review: Leslie Lewis - Keeper of the Flame
Featured Artist: Leslie Lewis
CD Title: Keeper of the Fame
Year: 2010
Record Label: Surf Cove Jazz
Style: Jazz Vocals
Musicians: Leslie Lewis (vocals), Gerard Hagen (piano), Domenic Genova (bass), Jerry Kalaf (drums, percussion)
Review: 
Leslie Lewis is all a good jazz singer should be. Her beautiful tone and classy phrasing on tracks like Day By Day, You Don't Know What Love Is and Speak Low evoke the sound of the classic jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.
On the title track, Keeper Of The Flame, Leslie's soulful voice plays beautifully with the melody and tempo changes with Jerry Kalaf adding a powerful drum solo. Her silky, smooth vocals on the jazzy version of Ivan Lins The Island hits you full of emotion.
The Brazilian influence can be heard all through this album, especially on the tracks Day By Day, the jazzy arrangements of Antonio Carlos Jobim's A Felicidade, Chega de Saudade and the sublime version of Fotografia. On these tracks at times one may hear echoes of the Ella Fitzgerald Sings Jobim album, both in tone and phrasing.
As a Puerto Rican I always enjoy listening to Juan Tizol's Caravan, one of the most recorded jazz classics. Leslie's vocals are just perfect on one of the best versions I have heard recently, with interesting rhythmic and harmonic choices.
Leslie Lewis' vocals are complimented perfectly by her husband, Gerard Hagen, and his trio, and special guest Gary Foster on sax.
Tracks: Keeper Of The Flame, The Island, Spring Is Here, Day By Day, A Felicidade, You Don't Know What Love Is, Fotografia, Chega De Saudade (No More Blues), Speak Low, Caravan
Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

Jazz Times 09/25/10  •  Albums  •  By Wilbert SostreCD Review: Leslie Lewis - Keeper of the FlameFeatured Artist: Leslie Lewis
CD Title: Keeper of the Fame
Year: 2010
Record Label: Surf Cove Jazz
Style: Jazz Vocals
Musicians: Leslie Lewis (vocals), Gerard Hagen (piano), Domenic Genova (bass), Jerry Kalaf (drums, percussion)
Review: Leslie Lewis is all a good jazz singer should be. Her beautiful tone and classy phrasing on tracks like Day By Day, You Don't Know What Love Is and Speak Low evoke the sound of the classic jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.
On the title track, Keeper Of The Flame, Leslie's soulful voice plays beautifully with the melody and tempo changes with Jerry Kalaf adding a powerful drum solo. Her silky, smooth vocals on the jazzy version of Ivan Lins The Island hits you full of emotion.
The Brazilian influence can be heard all through this album, especially on the tracks Day By Day, the jazzy arrangements of Antonio Carlos Jobim's A Felicidade, Chega de Saudade and the sublime version of Fotografia. On these tracks at times one may hear echoes of the Ella Fitzgerald Sings Jobim album, both in tone and phrasing.
As a Puerto Rican I always enjoy listening to Juan Tizol's Caravan, one of the most recorded jazz classics. Leslie's vocals are just perfect on one of the best versions I have heard recently, with interesting rhythmic and harmonic choices.
Leslie Lewis' vocals are complimented perfectly by her husband, Gerard Hagen, and his trio, and special guest Gary Foster on sax.
Tracks: Keeper Of The Flame, The Island, Spring Is Here, Day By Day, A Felicidade, You Don't Know What Love Is, Fotografia, Chega De Saudade (No More Blues), Speak Low, Caravan
Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

"Keeper Of The Flame" Cashbox Magazine

 

Cashbox Magazine
Jazz Reviewed 9/14/10 
Leslie Lewis 
Keeper Of The Flame 
   The musical starmakers at Surf Cove Jazz are putting out a warning: Make way for the next big thing! Leslie Lewis has a hot one on her hands with "Keeper Of The Flame." A bona fide sure thing for jazz radio success, the album is packed with tracks destined for cooler iPods nationwide. 
   Working with The Gerard Hagen Trio, Lewis' voice is the foundation for a collection of songs meant to whisk the worries of the world away. It will have been a while since music seemed to be just what you were hoping for, and that's where I was at with "Keeper." 
   Of the tracks to select from, "Day by Day" stand out for me. If I were choosing a first single, this one would top the list. Perfect for a beachfront sunset. 
   Let Leslie Lewis make your night tonight with the songs from "Keeper Of The Flame." Leave the hard calls for another time. 
Christopher Llewellyn Adams     5 Stars


Cashbox MagazineJazz Reviewed 9/14/10 Leslie Lewis Keeper Of The Flame 
   The musical starmakers at Surf Cove Jazz are putting out a warning: Make way for the next big thing! Leslie Lewis has a hot one on her hands with "Keeper Of The Flame." A bona fide sure thing for jazz radio success, the album is packed with tracks destined for cooler iPods nationwide.    Working with The Gerard Hagen Trio, Lewis' voice is the foundation for a collection of songs meant to whisk the worries of the world away. It will have been a while since music seemed to be just what you were hoping for, and that's where I was at with "Keeper."    Of the tracks to select from, "Day by Day" stand out for me. If I were choosing a first single, this one would top the list. Perfect for a beachfront sunset.    Let Leslie Lewis make your night tonight with the songs from "Keeper Of The Flame." Leave the hard calls for another time. 
Christopher Llewellyn Adams     5 Stars

 

"Keeper Of The Flame" Jazz Times

 

Jazz Times 10/08/10  •  Albums  •  By Susan Frances
Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio
Keeper of the Flame
Perfecting dreamy jazz oases is vocalist Leslie Lewis’ specialty. She is accompanied by The Gerard Hagen Trio on her new CD, Keeper of the Flame comprised of Gerard Hagen on piano, Domenic Genova on bass, and Jerry Kalaf on drums and percussion. The album is vintage beaux jazz reminiscent of the likes of Lena Horne and Dinah Washington featuring a repertoire of classic jazz tunage including Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “Spring Is Here” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Fotographia” tweaked with modern swing-inspired tracks like “Keeper of the Flame” penned by Mark Levine and the bluesy soul shading of “Don’t Know What Love Is” by Don Raye and Gene de Paul. Lewis’ new album is conducive to candlelit supper club ambiences with an emphasis on Brazilian jazz. She offers audiences an escape into the tranquility of beaux jazz.
The tapping beats of “No more Blues (Chega de Saudade)” are shrouded in bluesy overtones that permeate a peppy vibe as Lewis breaks into a few bars of scat, which elevates into the feather-light swags that valance “Speak Low” and the percolating rhythm of “Caravan.” The deep timbres of Lewis’ register burrow along the chord progressions creating smoldering grill marks that make these tunes her own. The wispy flutters brushing across “The Island” produce a dreamy aura and the hopping strut of “Day By Day” are decked in flouncing piano keys. Lewis takes audiences back in time to when dreamy beaux jazz was all the rage, but she also treats classic tunes with a modern flare that makes them connect with contemporary audiences.
The caressing vibrations of Lewis’ dark timbres demonstrate a richness that is comparable to Lena Horne and Dinah Washington. Keeper of the Flame is Lewis’ follow up to her debut solo album Of Two Minds which was also recorded with The Gerard Hagen Trio. Lewis maintains a standard of excellence throughout both recordings that is admirable and worthy of beaux jazz status.
www.surfcovejazz.com

Jazz Times 10/08/10  

•  Albums  •  By Susan Frances

Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio

Keeper of the Flame
Perfecting dreamy jazz oases is vocalist Leslie Lewis’ specialty. She is accompanied by The Gerard Hagen Trio on her new CD, Keeper of the Flame comprised of Gerard Hagen on piano, Domenic Genova on bass, and Jerry Kalaf on drums and percussion. The album is vintage beaux jazz reminiscent of the likes of Lena Horne and Dinah Washington featuring a repertoire of classic jazz tunage including Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “Spring Is Here” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Fotographia” tweaked with modern swing-inspired tracks like “Keeper of the Flame” penned by Mark Levine and the bluesy soul shading of “Don’t Know What Love Is” by Don Raye and Gene de Paul. Lewis’ new album is conducive to candlelit supper club ambiences with an emphasis on Brazilian jazz. She offers audiences an escape into the tranquility of beaux jazz.
The tapping beats of “No more Blues (Chega de Saudade)” are shrouded in bluesy overtones that permeate a peppy vibe as Lewis breaks into a few bars of scat, which elevates into the feather-light swags that valance “Speak Low” and the percolating rhythm of “Caravan.” The deep timbres of Lewis’ register burrow along the chord progressions creating smoldering grill marks that make these tunes her own. The wispy flutters brushing across “The Island” produce a dreamy aura and the hopping strut of “Day By Day” are decked in flouncing piano keys. Lewis takes audiences back in time to when dreamy beaux jazz was all the rage, but she also treats classic tunes with a modern flare that makes them connect with contemporary audiences.
The caressing vibrations of Lewis’ dark timbres demonstrate a richness that is comparable to Lena Horne and Dinah Washington. Keeper of the Flame is Lewis’ follow up to her debut solo album Of Two Minds which was also recorded with The Gerard Hagen Trio. Lewis maintains a standard of excellence throughout both recordings that is admirable and worthy of beaux jazz status.
www.surfcovejazz.com

 

"Keeper Of The Flame" EJazz Review

 

EJazz Review
Surfcove Jazz, 2010
Review By: Geannine Reid
As the genre of vocal jazz continues to expand its horizons it actually defines the be-bop vocalist tradition with distinct clarity. In today’s genre of vocal jazz it ranges from pop vocalists singing standards, to cabaret, to folk infuses stylings and delightfully the be-bop vocalist. Lewis is certainly the latter, drenched in the language and tradition of her foremothers Ella, Carmen and Sarah.
So what makes Lewis unique? Hands down; it is the timbre of her voice, it is like a weathered horn that reaches into the longing in your soul and quenches the thirst of desired satisfaction.
“Keeper of the Flame” is a mid-tempo Latin cut, with well-placed hits and an undercurrent that keeps the cut in a forward motion. Each player is a key element to the success of this cut and each musician plays their role eloquently. Lewis’ voice is commanding and soars with elongated notes and short hits; the cut is a very successful opener.
“You Don’t Know What Love is” offers a playful groove, quite contrasting from the usual rendition. Lewis is fully engaged and offers a playful, yet attention grabbing rendition. 
A widely recognized tune “Chega De Saudade (No More Blues)” is a wonderful accoutrement to the overall flow of the disc. The ensemble adeptly provides a flowing Latin beat for Lewis, as she eloquently conveys what is rumored to be the first Bossa nova song. 
Keeper of the Flame will spice up any Latin/Jazz collection ably accompanied by the deft Gerard Hagen Trio and correctly spiced with be-bop vocalist Leslie Lewis. Add it to any occasion and you will immediately add class to the occasion. 

EJazz Review
Surfcove Jazz, 2010Review By: Geannine Reid
As the genre of vocal jazz continues to expand its horizons it actually defines the be-bop vocalist tradition with distinct clarity. In today’s genre of vocal jazz it ranges from pop vocalists singing standards, to cabaret, to folk infuses stylings and delightfully the be-bop vocalist. Lewis is certainly the latter, drenched in the language and tradition of her foremothers Ella, Carmen and Sarah.


So what makes Lewis unique? Hands down; it is the timbre of her voice, it is like a weathered horn that reaches into the longing in your soul and quenches the thirst of desired satisfaction.
“Keeper of the Flame” is a mid-tempo Latin cut, with well-placed hits and an undercurrent that keeps the cut in a forward motion. Each player is a key element to the success of this cut and each musician plays their role eloquently. Lewis’ voice is commanding and soars with elongated notes and short hits; the cut is a very successful opener.
“You Don’t Know What Love is” offers a playful groove, quite contrasting from the usual rendition. Lewis is fully engaged and offers a playful, yet attention grabbing rendition. A widely recognized tune “Chega De Saudade (No More Blues)” is a wonderful accoutrement to the overall flow of the disc. The ensemble adeptly provides a flowing Latin beat for Lewis, as she eloquently conveys what is rumored to be the first Bossa nova song. 
Keeper of the Flame will spice up any Latin/Jazz collection ably accompanied by the deft Gerard Hagen Trio and correctly spiced with be-bop vocalist Leslie Lewis. Add it to any occasion and you will immediately add class to the occasion. 

 

"Keeper Of The Flame" Jazz Scene

 

Jazz Society of Oregon Review
Jazzscene -- George Fendel
 
Keeper Of The Flame, Leslie Lewis, vocals.
So many singers. So few jazz singers. Not to worry. Lewis proves once again that she can play in the big leagues. With a smoky, rather low-pitched edge to her voice, Lewis works a well-crafted set with a couple of LA players who too often fly under the radar. Gerard Hagen is a gifted, multi-purpose pianist who needs to be heard from more often. On alto sax and flutes, there's Gary Foster, a voice so distinct, airy and ethereal, he's instantly recognizable. The group is completed by Domenic Genova, bass, and Jerry Kalaf, drums. But back to Leslie. Following the title tune, she delivers a sensitive take on Ivan Lins' "The Island." Other Brazilian tunes appear here and there. Among them "A Felicidade," "Fotogaraphia," and "Chega De Saudade (No More Blues)." But Lewis hardly neglects the standard book, with the likes of "Spring Is Here," "Day By Day" and "You Don't Know What Love Is." Lewis scores throughout with a mature timbre and seemingly "built-in" jazz chops.
Surf Cove Jazz, 2010, 51:32.
 

ReviewJazzscene -- George Fendel Keeper Of The Flame, Leslie Lewis, vocals.

So many singers. So few jazz singers. Not to worry. Lewis proves once again that she can play in the big leagues. With a smoky, rather low-pitched edge to her voice, Lewis works a well-crafted set with a couple of LA players who too often fly under the radar. Gerard Hagen is a gifted, multi-purpose pianist who needs to be heard from more often. On alto sax and flutes, there's Gary Foster, a voice so distinct, airy and ethereal, he's instantly recognizable. The group is completed by Domenic Genova, bass, and Jerry Kalaf, drums. But back to Leslie. Following the title tune, she delivers a sensitive take on Ivan Lins' "The Island." Other Brazilian tunes appear here and there. Among them "A Felicidade," "Fotogaraphia," and "Chega De Saudade (No More Blues)." But Lewis hardly neglects the standard book, with the likes of "Spring Is Here," "Day By Day" and "You Don't Know What Love Is." Lewis scores throughout with a mature timbre and seemingly "built-in" jazz chops.Surf Cove Jazz, 2010, 51:32. 

 

"Keeper Of The Flame" The Borderland

 

Leslie Lewis is reviewed by The Borderland
The Borderland (Musicwatch Column)
Review By: John M. Peters
Leslie Lewis with the Gerard Hagen Trio - Keeper of the Flame (Surf Cove Jazz)
This is the second album by jazz vocalist Leslie Lewis received here at The Borderland, and once again she and her fellow musicians have created an album of classic vocal jazz. The emphasis on Keeper of the Flame is Latin rhythms and Brazilian music in particular, with several standards in the same style. Ms Lewis has a voice of the same quality as the great jazz divas [Ella, Sarah, and Dinah, and perhaps even a little Peggy on the more romantic songs], and she is ably supported by Gerard Hagen on piano, Domenic Genova on bass and Jerry Kalaf on drums, with Gary Foster guesting on flutes and sax. So the sound is very tight, but still swinging with a Latin beat.
Of the ten tracks on this new CD, most of the Brazilian songs are by Antonio Carlos Jobim [A Felicidade, Fotographia, Chega De Saudade], and the standards include Spring Is Here, Day By Day, Caravan, You Don't Know What Love Is, The Island, Keeper of the Flame, and Speak Low. The musicians fit around Ms Lewis's voice like a snug glove, and this is late night jazz of a high quality which just improves with repeated playing. Ms Lewis's has an earthy directness and is sexy enough to make any honest-to-God male heart skip several beats. I don't think I've heard a melodic jazz album to beat this during this year, and I can't commend Leslie Lewis high enough for creating such a lovely album of gently uplifting jazz.
For more information about this artist, album and availability visit:
www.surfcovejazz.com

Leslie Lewis is reviewed by The Borderland

The Borderland (Musicwatch Column)
Review By: John M. PetersLeslie Lewis with the Gerard Hagen Trio - Keeper of the Flame (Surf Cove Jazz)This is the second album by jazz vocalist Leslie Lewis received here at The Borderland, and once again she and her fellow musicians have created an album of classic vocal jazz. The emphasis on Keeper of the Flame is Latin rhythms and Brazilian music in particular, with several standards in the same style. Ms Lewis has a voice of the same quality as the great jazz divas [Ella, Sarah, and Dinah, and perhaps even a little Peggy on the more romantic songs], and she is ably supported by Gerard Hagen on piano, Domenic Genova on bass and Jerry Kalaf on drums, with Gary Foster guesting on flutes and sax. So the sound is very tight, but still swinging with a Latin beat.Of the ten tracks on this new CD, most of the Brazilian songs are by Antonio Carlos Jobim [A Felicidade, Fotographia, Chega De Saudade], and the standards include Spring Is Here, Day By Day, Caravan, You Don't Know What Love Is, The Island, Keeper of the Flame, and Speak Low. The musicians fit around Ms Lewis's voice like a snug glove, and this is late night jazz of a high quality which just improves with repeated playing. Ms Lewis's has an earthy directness and is sexy enough to make any honest-to-God male heart skip several beats. I don't think I've heard a melodic jazz album to beat this during this year, and I can't commend Leslie Lewis high enough for creating such a lovely album of gently uplifting jazz.For more information about this artist, album and availability visit:
www.surfcovejazz.com

"Keeper Of The Flame" Improvjazznation Review

 

Improjazznation  Nation Magazine Review
Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio – KEEPER OF THE FLAME: All the way from groovin’ gentle to jumpin’ for joy, Leslie definitely keeps the fire going, and knows how to use her voice to wrap you up in her magic, no doubt about it.  I reviewed her most recently in issue # 86 For some reason, the picture on this CD cover makes me think “pixie”… would you agree?  Gerard Hagen’s piano work, as well as bass by Domenic Genova and drums/percussion from Jerry Kalaf (with special guest Gary Foster on alto sax, flute and alto flute) enhance Leslie’s bright-spirited performance, as they did on the earlier CD I reviewed from her.  10 grand tracks… just check out “Spring Is Here” to get a feel for what “real” jazz is!  I also enjoyed the lively “Chega De Saudade (No More Blues)“, as I’m sure you will.  My favorite, though, was the sultry “Speak Low“, which is (for this listener, anyway) the best example of how talented Leslie is!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the “PICK” of this issue for “sultriest jazz vocals”.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is a stellar 4.98.  Get more information at SurfCove Jazz label site – SCOPE this YOUTUBE thingie out, too!   Rotcod Zzaj


Improjazznation  Nation Magazine Review
Leslie Lewis with The Gerard Hagen Trio – KEEPER OF THE FLAME: All the way from groovin’ gentle to jumpin’ for joy, Leslie definitely keeps the fire going, and knows how to use her voice to wrap you up in her magic, no doubt about it.  I reviewed her most recently in issue # 86 For some reason, the picture on this CD cover makes me think “pixie”… would you agree?  Gerard Hagen’s piano work, as well as bass by Domenic Genova and drums/percussion from Jerry Kalaf (with special guest Gary Foster on alto sax, flute and alto flute) enhance Leslie’s bright-spirited performance, as they did on the earlier CD I reviewed from her.  10 grand tracks… just check out “Spring Is Here” to get a feel for what “real” jazz is!  I also enjoyed the lively “Chega De Saudade (No More Blues)“, as I’m sure you will.  My favorite, though, was the sultry “Speak Low“, which is (for this listener, anyway) the best example of how talented Leslie is!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the “PICK” of this issue for “sultriest jazz vocals”.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is a stellar 4.98.  Get more information at SurfCove Jazz label site – SCOPE this YOUTUBE thingie out, too!   Rotcod Zzaj

 

"Keeper Of The Flame" ALL VOCALS.COM

 

Review From  ALL VOCALS.COM
Leslie Lewis 
Keeper of the Flame/Surf-Cove Jazz
Reviewed By: - Steven Harband
There is something magical about a truly authentic jazz recording with all the trimmings and in this case the trimming or icing is Leslie Lewis, ably supported by Gerard Hagen (piano), Domenic Genova (bass), Jerry Kalaf (drums/percussion), and special guest, Gary Foster (alto sax, flute, and alto flute).
Lewis has a very authentic jazz voice reminiscent of Carmen McRae, not to say that Lewis is a duplication of McRae, but her voice offers similar qualities. What is most pleasing in a jazz vocalist is the ability to create an organic, non-affected delivery with true jazz rhythm and tension. Lewis exhibits these qualities in spades, backed by an intuitive and technically articulate ensemble her latest release is duly entitled Keeper of the Flame.
Keeper of the Flame offers a nice mix of Latin and well-arranged standards. Some of those include a gorgeous rendition of "The Island" this cut will immediately transport you to a tropical paradise. Special guest Gary Foster weaves a palette of floating textures, complimenting the vocal prowess of Lewis in her elongated lines.
"You Don't Know What Love Is" is typically approached as a ballad, Lewis gives it a funky/bluesy treatment that offers a new look at this classic standard. Lewis digs in and caresses the track with sass and style. Her band of seasoned professional's serves it up hot.
"Caravan" has an international flair and ere of intrigue. Bassist, Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf lay down and throbbing and driving bass-line adding to the panache of the cut. The cut boils to a fever before Lewis' commanding vocals enter the scene. As a unit the group creates a powerful rendition of this well-covered standard, giving it a unique flavor and truly stamping the cut as their own.
Keeper of the Flame is well worth adding to your collection, and Lewis is a jazz vocalist who sets herself apart from the pack.
Personnel:
Leslie Lewis (vocals)
Gerard Hagen (piano)
Domenic Genova (bass)
Jerry Kalaf (drums/percussion)
Gary Foster (alto sax, flute, and alto flute).
Track Listing: 
1. Keeper of the Flame 5:23 
2. The Island 6:20 
3. Spring Is Here 4:48
4. Day By Day 4:46 
5. A Felicidade 3:45 
6. You Don't Know What Love Is 4:06 
7. Fotographia 4:05 
8. Chega De Saudade (No More Blues) 6:02
9. Speak Low 6:43
10. Caravan 

Review From  ALL VOCALS.COMLeslie Lewis Keeper of the Flame/Surf-Cove JazzReviewed By: - Steven Harband
There is something magical about a truly authentic jazz recording with all the trimmings and in this case the trimming or icing is Leslie Lewis, ably supported by Gerard Hagen (piano), Domenic Genova (bass), Jerry Kalaf (drums/percussion), and special guest, Gary Foster (alto sax, flute, and alto flute).
Lewis has a very authentic jazz voice reminiscent of Carmen McRae, not to say that Lewis is a duplication of McRae, but her voice offers similar qualities. What is most pleasing in a jazz vocalist is the ability to create an organic, non-affected delivery with true jazz rhythm and tension. Lewis exhibits these qualities in spades, backed by an intuitive and technically articulate ensemble her latest release is duly entitled Keeper of the Flame.
Keeper of the Flame offers a nice mix of Latin and well-arranged standards. Some of those include a gorgeous rendition of "The Island" this cut will immediately transport you to a tropical paradise. Special guest Gary Foster weaves a palette of floating textures, complimenting the vocal prowess of Lewis in her elongated lines.
"You Don't Know What Love Is" is typically approached as a ballad, Lewis gives it a funky/bluesy treatment that offers a new look at this classic standard. Lewis digs in and caresses the track with sass and style. Her band of seasoned professional's serves it up hot.
"Caravan" has an international flair and ere of intrigue. Bassist, Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf lay down and throbbing and driving bass-line adding to the panache of the cut. The cut boils to a fever before Lewis' commanding vocals enter the scene. As a unit the group creates a powerful rendition of this well-covered standard, giving it a unique flavor and truly stamping the cut as their own.
Keeper of the Flame is well worth adding to your collection, and Lewis is a jazz vocalist who sets herself apart from the pack.
Personnel:Leslie Lewis (vocals)Gerard Hagen (piano)Domenic Genova (bass)Jerry Kalaf (drums/percussion)Gary Foster (alto sax, flute, and alto flute).
Track Listing: 1. Keeper of the Flame 5:23 2. The Island 6:20 3. Spring Is Here 4:484. Day By Day 4:46 5. A Felicidade 3:45 6. You Don't Know What Love Is 4:06 7. Fotographia 4:05 8. Chega De Saudade (No More Blues) 6:029. Speak Low 6:4310. Caravan 

 

"Keeper Of The Flame" Straight No Chaser

 

Leslie Lewis is reviewed by Straight No Chaser
Mon, 1 November 2010
A Keeper of the Flame
Female jazz singers seem to be divided into two worlds these days. There are those who follow the tradition of Ella, Sassy and Anita O’Day, and record standards or popular tunes with a classic jazz background. This would include Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, and Dianne Reeves. Thankfully we have legends like Dee Dee Bridgewater and Nancy Wilson recording them as well.
 
Then there are those who try to broaden the genre with covers of Baby Boomer favorites and present their music with less traditional jazz arrangements. These would include Cassandra Wilson, Lizz Wright, and Rene Marie. Karrin Allyson has a foot firmly in each camp.
 
Leslie Lewis, as can be gathered from the title of her new CD, Keeper of the Flame, stands firmly in the classics. Her latest release, recorded with the Gerard Hagen Trio, is heavy with selections from the Great American Songbook and the Great Brazilian Songbook (if there is such a thing) and shows her ready to follow in the classic singers’ footsteps.
 
Thanks to a guest appearance by flutist Gary Foster, the Brazilian numbers are the standouts on the CD. “Fotographia”, an Antonio Carlos Jobim classic, is given a lilting, swaying reading, Ms. Lewis’ voice soft as a breeze. Ivan Lins’ “The Island” features Hagen’s piano to great effect, with Ms. Lewis singing the yearning lyrics with feeling.
 
The CD wraps up with two classics – “Speak Low” and “Caravan” – which can stand with some of the fine interpretations of the past. The former song, one of my favorites, is taken at a slower tempo than expected, and Ms. Lewis’ vocals are an instrument to be reckoned with, curling seductively around the familiar lyrics. Foster’s saxophone solo brings it home, dancing over Jerry Kalaf’s subtle percussion.

Leslie Lewis is reviewed by Straight No Chaser

Mon, 1 November 2010
A Keeper of the Flame
Female jazz singers seem to be divided into two worlds these days. There are those who follow the tradition of Ella, Sassy and Anita O’Day, and record standards or popular tunes with a classic jazz background. This would include Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, and Dianne Reeves. Thankfully we have legends like Dee Dee Bridgewater and Nancy Wilson recording them as well. Then there are those who try to broaden the genre with covers of Baby Boomer favorites and present their music with less traditional jazz arrangements. These would include Cassandra Wilson, Lizz Wright, and Rene Marie. Karrin Allyson has a foot firmly in each camp. Leslie Lewis, as can be gathered from the title of her new CD, Keeper of the Flame, stands firmly in the classics. Her latest release, recorded with the Gerard Hagen Trio, is heavy with selections from the Great American Songbook and the Great Brazilian Songbook (if there is such a thing) and shows her ready to follow in the classic singers’ footsteps. Thanks to a guest appearance by flutist Gary Foster, the Brazilian numbers are the standouts on the CD. “Fotographia”, an Antonio Carlos Jobim classic, is given a lilting, swaying reading, Ms. Lewis’ voice soft as a breeze. Ivan Lins’ “The Island” features Hagen’s piano to great effect, with Ms. Lewis singing the yearning lyrics with feeling. The CD wraps up with two classics – “Speak Low” and “Caravan” – which can stand with some of the fine interpretations of the past. The former song, one of my favorites, is taken at a slower tempo than expected, and Ms. Lewis’ vocals are an instrument to be reckoned with, curling seductively around the familiar lyrics. Foster’s saxophone solo brings it home, dancing over Jerry Kalaf’s subtle percussion.

"Keeper Of The Flame" Midwest Record

 

Volume 33/Number 320
September 18, 2010
MIDWEST RECORD
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record
SURF COVE JAZZ
LESLIE LEWIS/Keeper of the Flame:  Sometimes it’s that little thing you see out of the corner of your eye when your ripping the mail open that will move a particular cd by an artist you don’t know to the top of the pile. In the case of jazz vocalist Lewis, she worked with the late John Bunch and had her last album issued in Japan by the Sinatra Society.  There were some other interesting old school credits as well, but those were the ones that grabbed us.  The set card veers from the standard diva dip in the classic songbook, often veering to the left, and she will not disappoint if you’ve never heard her before.  A sweet throwback to the 50s thrush, Lewis is spot on throughout, merging Brazil with jazz into a delightfully supper club tasting brew.  Just the thing for when you’re feeling like a grown up.  Hot stuff.


Volume 33/Number 320September 18, 2010

MIDWEST RECORDCHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and PublisherCopyright 2010 Midwest Record


SURF COVE JAZZLESLIE LEWIS/Keeper of the Flame:  Sometimes it’s that little thing you see out of the corner of your eye when your ripping the mail open that will move a particular cd by an artist you don’t know to the top of the pile. In the case of jazz vocalist Lewis, she worked with the late John Bunch and had her last album issued in Japan by the Sinatra Society.  There were some other interesting old school credits as well, but those were the ones that grabbed us.  The set card veers from the standard diva dip in the classic songbook, often veering to the left, and she will not disappoint if you’ve never heard her before.  A sweet throwback to the 50s thrush, Lewis is spot on throughout, merging Brazil with jazz into a delightfully supper club tasting brew.  Just the thing for when you’re feeling like a grown up.  Hot stuff.

 

"Of Two Minds" Cadence Magazine

Cadence Magazine   
Oct. Nov. Dec. 2009 pages 142-143
Peter Westbrook
Leslie Lewis is a different proposition.  This is also her first recording, but the background she brings to it contains some solid Jazz credentials; among the people she has worked with are the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, members of the Ellington Orchestra,  John Bunch, Britt Woodman, Joe Wilder, Norris Turney, Harry Allen, and Patrice Rushen.  This is no demo; it is a session that deserves national exposure and one that reflects Lewis’ wisdom in resisting the temptation to rush out and record prematurely.  Indeed, Lewis comes across here as a mature artist.  She is mature enough to collaborate here with another veteran of the L.A. Jazz scene, pianist Gerard Hagen, while still imposing her personality on the session.  According to her press kit, the choice of material was Lewis’ she takes three Monk tunes along with some strong standards.  Hagen may have had something to do with the choice of musicians-along with his trio Gerard brought in Gary Foster and some other excellent players who all have a chance to shine.  
Lewis herself handles the vocals with admirable aplomb, displaying firm intonation and sure-footed time.  She varies her delivery with some scatting, but used the technique judiciously, 16 measures on “In Walked Bud,” 32 on “Hello Young Lovers.”  Lewis finds other ways to create variety, however, stretching the vocal line on “Honeysuckle Rose,” pitting herself against individual instruments- Stout’s trumpet on “I Got It Bad,” Foster’s alto flute on “Nature Boy.” And she has the courage to make her big finish a lovely ballad performance, with “But Beautiful,” rather than looking for a flag-waver. Again-mature thoughtful work.
I have written often that many performers find their feet by their third recordings.  If her first recording is any indication, Leslie Lewis is well on her way.

Cadence Magazine   Oct. Nov. Dec. 2009 pages 142-143
Peter Westbrook

Leslie Lewis is a different proposition.  This is also her first recording, but the background she brings to it contains some solid Jazz credentials; among the people she has worked with are the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, members of the Ellington Orchestra,  John Bunch, Britt Woodman, Joe Wilder, Norris Turney, Harry Allen, and Patrice Rushen.  This is no demo; it is a session that deserves national exposure and one that reflects Lewis’ wisdom in resisting the temptation to rush out and record prematurely.  Indeed, Lewis comes across here as a mature artist.  She is mature enough to collaborate here with another veteran of the L.A. Jazz scene, pianist Gerard Hagen, while still imposing her personality on the session.  According to her press kit, the choice of material was Lewis’ she takes three Monk tunes along with some strong standards.  Hagen may have had something to do with the choice of musicians-along with his trio Gerard brought in Gary Foster and some other excellent players who all have a chance to shine.  
Lewis herself handles the vocals with admirable aplomb, displaying firm intonation and sure-footed time.  She varies her delivery with some scatting, but used the technique judiciously, 16 measures on “In Walked Bud,” 32 on “Hello Young Lovers.”  Lewis finds other ways to create variety, however, stretching the vocal line on “Honeysuckle Rose,” pitting herself against individual instruments- Stout’s trumpet on “I Got It Bad,” Foster’s alto flute on “Nature Boy.” And she has the courage to make her big finish a lovely ballad performance, with “But Beautiful,” rather than looking for a flag-waver. Again-mature thoughtful work.
I have written often that many performers find their feet by their third recordings.  If her first recording is any indication, Leslie Lewis is well on her way.

"Of Two Minds" Jazz Scene

Of Two Minds, Leslie Lewis, vocals.

 

The first thing one notices is that Lewis is a jazz singer. She has that tough to define “something” which separates the jazz and pop worlds; phrasing, expressing real emotion in a lyric; knowing how much liberty to take -- these, I guess,  are some of the qualities I look for. And Leslie Lewis gets it. On tunes ranging from “In Walked Bud” to “Honeysuckle Rose”; from “Well, You Needn’t” to “Hello Young Lovers” and several more, you’ll like the husky voiced, Ms. Lewis. Slightly reminiscent of Carmen McRae to these ears. Add formidable LA talent like Gerard Hagen, piano, Ron Stout, trumpet, and the brilliant Gary Foster on alto sax and flute, and you’re rewarded with sterling results.

Surf Cove Jazz, 2008, 41:29.

"Of Two Minds" Bill Reed Singer's Blog

 

 Love Leslie!
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.)
POSTED BY BILL REED 

 Love Leslie!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.)
POSTED BY BILL REED 

 

"Of Two Minds" Run Off Groove

 

Run Off Groove #226  John Book
Now this is vocal jazz I enjoy listening to.
Her CDBaby pages says Leslie Lewis “A jazz singer with an instrument that can deliver whether it’s Monk, Ellington, or Jobim. She always makes a statement with her own point of view” and that is clearly obvious on Of Two Minds (Surf Cove Jazz), an album that features the Gerard Hagen Trio along with Larry Koonse, Gary Foster, Ron Stout, and Rob Lockart playing the kind of jazz you hope to be able to hear and understand on your death bed.
Lewis has the kind of spunk and classiness that comes from years of listening and singing this style of music, and if Hoda Kotb was a jazz singer, I’d imagine she would sing like this. Lewis sings with a fervor that makes you itch in all the right places, and is the ointment towards the spots that aren’t, listen to “I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good” and it becomes perfectly clear that this one knows the blues because she’s probably been there, but also knows the goods because she’s been good and bad at the same time. “‘Round Midnight” and “But Beautiful” deserves massive airplay if the United States cared about their jazz origins, but it doesn’t so sadly she may be limited to NPR airplay. It makes me wish more people would be able to hear someone like her, because Leslie Lewis is just a personification of what jazz vocals is about, even when she jiggles her vocal chords in “I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good”. She sometimes reaches for that hapa raspiness and I wish I could’ve heard more of that, but perhaps she’ll enhance that on the next one. Kathie Lee Gifford, step off. She would be capable of doing some soul music too, maybe next time. Uh, stroke it Lewis, stroke it! Of Two Minds is the album that will make having affairs worth it. Special recognition to Foster’s flute work in “Nature Boy”, the eden ahbez classic.

Run Off Groove #226  John Book
Now this is vocal jazz I enjoy listening to.Her CDBaby pages says Leslie Lewis “A jazz singer with an instrument that can deliver whether it’s Monk, Ellington, or Jobim. She always makes a statement with her own point of view” and that is clearly obvious on Of Two Minds (Surf Cove Jazz), an album that features the Gerard Hagen Trio along with Larry Koonse, Gary Foster, Ron Stout, and Rob Lockart playing the kind of jazz you hope to be able to hear and understand on your death bed.
Lewis has the kind of spunk and classiness that comes from years of listening and singing this style of music, and if Hoda Kotb was a jazz singer, I’d imagine she would sing like this. Lewis sings with a fervor that makes you itch in all the right places, and is the ointment towards the spots that aren’t, listen to “I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good” and it becomes perfectly clear that this one knows the blues because she’s probably been there, but also knows the goods because she’s been good and bad at the same time. “‘Round Midnight” and “But Beautiful” deserves massive airplay if the United States cared about their jazz origins, but it doesn’t so sadly she may be limited to NPR airplay. It makes me wish more people would be able to hear someone like her, because Leslie Lewis is just a personification of what jazz vocals is about, even when she jiggles her vocal chords in “I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good”. She sometimes reaches for that hapa raspiness and I wish I could’ve heard more of that, but perhaps she’ll enhance that on the next one. Kathie Lee Gifford, step off. She would be capable of doing some soul music too, maybe next time. Uh, stroke it Lewis, stroke it! Of Two Minds is the album that will make having affairs worth it. Special recognition to Foster’s flute work in “Nature Boy”, the eden ahbez classic.

"Of Two Minds" Jazz Review .Com

Jazz Review.com

 

CD Title: Of Two Minds 

Year: 2008

Record Label: Surf Cove Jazz

Style: Straight-Ahead / Classic

Musicians:

Leslie Lewis - vocals, Gerard Hagen - piano, Jerry Kalaf - drums, Domenic Genova - bass, Larry Koonse - guitar, Gary Foster - alto saxophone and alto flute, Ron Stout - trumpet, Rob Lockhart - tenor saxophone

Review:

Jazz singer Leslie Lewis and the Gerard Hagen Trio come together beautifully on their latest release Of Two Minds, which feature nine cover tunes from iconic writers such as Duke Ellington, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Eden Ahbez to name a few. Lewis entices listeners to kick up their heals and shimmy their hips playfully or sink pensively into their innermost thoughts with these songs. The music is classic swing done with a style reflective of an era that catapulted the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie. Whether Lewis is being flighty, reflective or metaphorical, she makes jazz music become a conduit for channeling human emotions.

Eden Ahbez’s storytelling narrative “Nature Boy” is twined into a beautifully moving piece in Lewis’ vocals, while she shimmies and dances flirtatiously through “In Walked Bud” and “Honeysuckle Rose.” Lewis’ vocal inflections touch the heart persuasively in Thelonious Monk’s timeless favorite “’Round Midnight.”

The Gerard Hagen Trio are wonderful at complementing Lewis’s graceful strokes and velvety alto textures. They do a classy rendition of Monk’s sassy swing number “Well You Needn’t” equipped with Lewis’ magnetic delivery, and then emulsify the wavy locks of Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is The Ocean?” into a warm current. Their remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Hello Young Lovers” is reminiscent of Judy Garland’s gentle swing and earthy alto pitch. The final track “But Beautiful” is a torchlight melody that shows no fear of dreaming aloud, and instills that courage in its listeners.

Leslie Lewis and the Gerard Hagen Trio make for a lovely marriage in jazz circles. The band and Lewis complement each other beautifully, and instinctively know how to translate their beauty into lyrical forms. Lewis has enjoyed a productive stint as a lounge singer performing in ballrooms across the USA at such affluent hotels as the Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, and Sheraton Universal. Additionally, she has sung with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. The Gerard Hagen Trio consisting of pianist Gerard Hagen, drummer Jerry Kala, and bassist Domenic Genova have been playing since 1997, and have received worldwide accolades for their two albums, 1997’s Far Horizons and 2001’s Stay Tuned. Of Two Minds is an amalgamation of swing jazz’s best attributes, and Leslie Lewis along the Gerard Hagen Trio and guest musicians guitarist Larry Koonse, brass player Ron Stout, and reed instrumentalists Gary Foster and Rob Lockhart are the right candidates to make this material radiate with the beauty of the originals.

Tracks: In Walked Bud, I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good, Nature Boy, Honeysuckle Rose, 'Round Midnight, Well You Needn't, How Deep Is The Ocean?, Hello Young Lovers, But Beautiful

Record Label Website: http://www.surfcovejazz.com 

Artist's Website: http://www.gerardhagen.com 

Listen or Buy: www.cdbaby.com/cd/leslielewis 

Reviewed by: Susan Frances 

"Of Two Minds" All Music Guide

 

ALL Music Guide

 

Review by Adam Greenberg

Usually a featured vocalist with an orchestra, a side vocalist with instrumental stars, or a dancer amongst a troupe, Leslie Lewis here presents her take on a number of classic pieces. In the choice of compositions, there's an almost even split between the straightforward, relaxed romances of the Great American Songbook (composers include Irving Berlin, Van Heusen, Rodgers & Hammerstein, etc.) and the off-kilter, exploratory pieces of Thelonious Monk. There's also a stray piece between the two extremes with Eden Ahbez's outstanding "Nature Boy." To her credit, Lewis is able to take on both ends of the spectrum. On the Monk pieces (and incidentally on Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," a favorite of Monk), she reverts to something of a Lambert, Hendricks & Ross sound, with a scat-like delivery masking a surprisingly smooth voice. "In Walked Bud," the opening track here, stands out as an excellent piece and one that won't often be done by vocalists. Her approach to the songbook pieces is a little more of a nightclub croon, bringing out a little bit of force to put behind the lyrics. Not a bad outing for Lewis, breaking the standard lounge singer aesthetic in favor of some more intimate artistry.

"Of Two Minds" Borderland

Borderland  UK

 

Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen Trio - Of Two Minds (Surf Cove Jazz SCJ100) The jazz songbook is deep and varied, which is relief as this new album by Leslie Lewis cherry pick some of the greatest tunes from that hallowed songbook. Ms Lewis has one of those slightly husky and deep voices, giving these songs extra resonance and bounce. The Gerard Hagen Trio (Hagen on piano, Domenic Genova on bass and Jerry Kalaf on drums) support with panache while four other guest musicians (Rob Lockheart on tenor sax, Gay Foster on alto sax and flute, Ron Stout on trumpet and Larry Koonse on guitar), take solo slots on many of the tracks. Amongst the classic tunes on this album are In Walked Bud, Nature Boy, Honeysuckle Rose, Round Midnight, Hello Young Lovers and I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good. All performed in a late night intimate style where you can savour the groove of every word and note. If you are a devotee of the grand divas of the classic era of jazz (Ella, Sarah and Dinah) then I think you will find Of Two Minds of great interest, it is a confident album that won't fail to please and deserves wider exposure.

 

 

Of Two Minds is a solid album of jazz standards sung by vocalist Leslie Lewis, Eden Ahbez's "Nature Boy,” makes Of Two Minds well worth the price of admission. RIYL: Sarah Vaughan, Jon Hendricks (3 stars)" 

"Far Horizons" All Music Guide

"An excellent modern mainstream pianist, Gerard Hagen makes his debut as a leader on this trio/quartet set. Bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf give Hagen stimulating support, and altoist Gary Foster is in top form during his guest appearances, sounding a lot like Lee Konitz. Hagen, who is influenced by Bill Evans and Tommy Flanagan but mostly sounds like himself, performs seven standards that he reinvents with subtlety, one song by Halaf and two of his own originals. The thoughtful music swings, and although Hagen has impressive technique, he uses it to serve the music rather than the other way around. Overall this is an excellent outing."

-~Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

"Far Horizons" Jung on Jazz

Jung on Jazz Sept. 1998

GERARD HAGEN Far Horizons

(Resurgent Music)

Born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota, pianist Gerard Hagen had the privilege of coming from a musical family (as a rule, everyone played two instruments). Playing the trombone and piano, Hagen's interests in high school tended to delve into the rock and roll genre. It wasn't until his jazz band director turned him onto jazz that Hagen, at 18, shifted his course to devoting himself to playing jazz music. After an unimpressive trombone solo in college, Hagen turned his attention to the piano, listening to the harmonic styling of Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, and Kenny Barron. Hagen has steadily been a fixture in southland clubs for many years and releases Far Horizons, primarily a trio date with fellow Californians, bassist Domenic Genova, and drummer Jerry Kalaf, guest starring alto saxophonist Gary Foster.

Hagen elegantly walks through Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," thoughtfully progressing along with the lyrical and harmonic sensibility of Bill Evans. The brush strokes of Kalaf help facilitate the melancholy longing of the tune. Foster initially makes his presence felt, opening a vibrant "I Should Care," surging to the upper registers and unveiling a dynamic solo before allowing the rest of the quartet to work their magic. Hagen's colorful splashes and mature subtleties make for yet another fine moment. The romantic "You And The Night And The Music" is the highlight of this delightful listening experience. Hagen and his quartet cohesively interact with one another and produce a mesmerizing portrait of sensitivity. Foster's sensual wit may be at the forefront of the foursome, but it is Hagen's gentle, seductive phrases that steal the show.

Occasionally, there are diamonds in the ruff, and every once in a great while there is a diamond worth searching for. Hagen's Far Horizons is one to ask the local record retailer for. Available at all fine Tower Records locations or by contacting Resurgent Music at resurgentmusic@earthlink-net, Far Horizons is a listening treasure.

"Far Horizons" Jazz Improv Magazine

Jazz Improv

Gerard Hagen Trio

FAR HORIZONS

Gerard Hagen is obviously influenced by the late Bill Evans. Domenic Genova's bass work immediately catches your ear. Jerry Kalaf, in addition to being a tasty drummer, is a prolific composer as well. "Sept 15, 1980" is his. The date is the day Bill Evans passed away. As a trio these three meld together for a enjoyable recording consisting of compositions by Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Barron, two Hagen originals and the afore- mentioned Kalaf tune, plus four standards that are given beautiful treatments. Alto saxophonist Gary Foster, a personal favorite of this writer joins the trio for several tracks. His Desmond/ Konitz like tone is a gas. His solo opening to "You And The Night" is somethin' else.

"9/15/80," a very poignant piece, showcases his warm alto, and Hagen's passionate piano. Barron's "Voyage" chums along in fine fashion with a colorful solo from Kalaf. Dig the bass-ics by Genova on "Rhapsody" at. the beginning and end. The bass/alto is a nice touch.

A fine debut recording for Hagen and company.

--By "Stix" Leonard

"Far Horizons" Cadence Magazine

Cadence Magazine

Gerard Hagen Far Horizons, Resurgent Music

Hagen is a bright-toned Bill Evans-style pianist, although his take on "In Walked Bud" is unexpectedly stentorian, introduced and concluded by a repeating dissonant cluster. Otherwise he is more restrained, alternating between sunny an moony phrases. He is at his mooniest on "Sept. 15, 1980," the date of Evans' death. The tracks with Gary Foster, especially "Sept. 15,1980" (at one end of the spectrum) and Kenny Barron's "Voyage," (at the other), crackle with particular energy: Hagen lays out at the beginning of "You and the Night and the Music," and Foster and Kalaf raise more sparks by themselves. They're not Trane and Rashied, but it's a nice moment. When Hagen returns, the clarity and sharpness of Foster's tone become the perfect compliment to his approach. As for Genova, he is solid throughout, and his moment comes with a cool walking solo on "I Hear a Rhapsody." A pleasant recording.

--Robert Spencer

"Far Horizons" Jazz News

Jazz News

GERARD HAGEN

Far Horizons Resurgent Music

Each member of the Gerard Hagen trio participates equally with ample solo work and a balance of varied support work. From Southern California, the trio insures that Hagen's recording debut is a comfortable listen for the mainstream fan. Alto saxophonist Cary Foster joins the trio on 5 tracks.

Hagen's compositions Sheryl's Surprise and Far Horizons show a preference for the lyrical side of mainstream piano playing. The former is performed a capella and the latter is performed with the augmented trio. Both Foster and Hagen connect their phrases with sweeping motion; the saxo- phonist remains light and delicate while the pianist s style is somewhat more forceful. Bassist Genova extends and enhances the lyrical nature cf the ensemble's performance. After a dreamy rubato piano introduction, Kalaf's composition Sept. 15, 1980 becomes a feature number for Foster who waltzes gracefully around the saxophone. I Should Care lopes along unfettered as a trio gathering, while I Hear A Rhapsody reveals individual improvisiation from each of the four artists. Recommended.

--Jim Santella

"Far Horizons" Jazz Scene

Jazzscene April 1999

Far Horizons, Gerard Hagen, piano. A new name to me, Gerard Hagen has produced a polished, lyrical sound in the Bill Evans tradition. Hagen's trio opts for material primarily from the standard and jazz books. Thus we're treated to Yesterdays, In Walked Bud, I Should Care, You And The Night And The Music, Voyage, I Hear A Rhapsody and Black Nile. Gary Foster owns one of the most individual and pure alto sounds anywhere, and this recording is enhanced by Gary's presence on several tunes. Having already mentioned the name of Bill Evans, I would draw your attention to a composition entitled September 15, 1980. This was the date of Evans' death, but this ballad, though poignant, is far from dirge-like. Hagen's originals include Far Horizons and Sheryl's Surprise, both attractively written melodies. It's always a joy to hear Gary Foster and we definitely need an encore from Gerard Hagen. Resurgent Music, 1998, PT. 53:41; ****1/2.

--George Fendel

"Far Horizons" L.A. Jazz Scene

L.A. Jazz Scene October 1998

CD REVIEWS

GERARD HAGEN Far Horizons (Resurgent)

Pianist Gerard Hagen's recording debut comes from a record label known for its respect of mainstream jazz and a consistently vigilant ear for quality. Tenor saxophonist Dan St. Marseille's small jazz label from Orange, California has featured local favorites such as Cecilia Coleman, Dewey Ernie, Doug MacDonald and David Sills. Hagen has been in Southern California for 15 years playing club dates; his trio includes bassist Domenic Genova, and drummer Jerry Kalaf. Alto saxophonist Gary Foster joins the trio on 5 tracks. Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays" opens the session with cool, straight-ahead piano trio jazz. Hagen keeps the session lively and imaginative while strolling in the spotlight as well as when comping behind solo work from bassist and drummer. Monk's "In Walked Bud" follows with a dramatic up-tempo arrangement that lets each member of the trio stretch out. Whether sweeping with the brushes or keeping time with the sticks, drummer Jerry Kalaf assists greatly with keeping the flow going straight ahead. Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile" presents its familiar melody from the piano keyboard along with bass solo and drum fours. Kenny Barron's "Voyage" features Foster's alto sax in a fast moving toe tapper. The saxophonist lends an exceptionally fluid and fast pace to "You and the Night and the Music." In a unique arrangement, saxophone and drummer are paired for an extended duet that finds each improvising comfortably. This is followed by a piano-bass duet that permits the listener to hear every nuance from the artists. Recommended

--Jim Santella

"Far Horizons" Jazz DJ Comments

" ... command of his instrument and self-assurance are evident ... along with an appreciation for melody and an ability to swing. Far Horizons is an exciting debut for a gifted pianist and his accomplished young trio."

--Ken Borgers KLON Radio Long Beach, CA

 

"Pianist Hagen explores a menu of standards and originals with lyrical elegance on Resurgent Music's Far Horizons. Gary Foster's alto sax is heard to perfection on several selections." 

--"Our Town" George Fendel Portland, OR

 

"Far Horizons features a perfect mixture of standards, jazz classics, and originals. Gary Foster is one of the undersung masters of the alto saxophone and he adds immeasurably to this date."

--Peter Coppach WDCB Radio Chicago Ill.

 

"Gerard Hagen Trio - Far Horizons some of my favorite tunes here - played beautifully, and when you add in Gary Foster, it's all very, very nice."

--Jack Simpson "Jazz on the Beach" WFIT Radio Florida

 

"Gerard Hagen has got a very solid thing going, and having Gary Foster along never hurt anyone."

--Lenny Mazel KCME Radio Colorado Springs

 

Gerard Hagen Far Horizons "Wow, where do these guys come from whom I have never heard of before? This CD is a keeper! Hagen is truly talented and gifted so that one wishes to hear (no, make that listen) multiple times. The trio all have big ears for one another and it plays out just like that. With Gary Foster on alto, as a special guest shot, the validity on this session is increased even more so. I SHOULD CARE and I HEAR A RHAPSODY most aired on my shows."

--Bruce Tater KETR Radio Texas

 

"While Gerard Hagen is a well known giant on the west coast, it was a pleasure to introduce him to my audience on Swingin' With Friends at WORD. He has been well received with requests for repeat plays on such tunes as IN WALKED BUD and I HEAR A RHAPSODY. Gar r Foster is outstanding on YOU AND THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC. A trio that can swing, like this is always a good bet for a great musical evening, keep up the good work. It's groups like this that keep jazz alive."

--Larry Routt WOBO Radio Cincinnati

 

"I was previously exposed to this CD by friend Gary Foster and am delighted with the entire production. Anybody Gary endorses turns out to be the very best. This is a beautiful production.

--Larry Atkins KTXK Radio Texas

 

"Gerard Hagen Trio swings great and [has a] great feeling for ballads. Can't go wrong with the great Gary Poster."

--Ginney Coleman KCUR Radio Kansas City

"Stay Tuned" Jazz Improv Magazine

Jazz Improv

GERARD HAGEN

STAY TUNED--Sea Breeze Jazz SB-3049. Sea Breeze Jazz, P.O. Box 1910, Pisino Beach, CA 93448-1910; Website:www.seabreezeiazz.com

Warne-ing; Sweet And Lovely; Confirmation,Bass (And Tenor) Tune; Alone Together; Like Someone In Love; Beautiful Love; Eiderdown; Up Jumped Spring; Bailing.

PERSONNEL: Gerard Hagen, piano; Domenic Genova, Henry Franklin, bass; Jerry Kalaf, drums; Chuck Manning. tenor saxophone; Larry Koonse, guitar.

"a source of ideas ... continuous depth throughout each track"

As Jazz Improv presents in this issue the country's breadth of jazz piano talent, some well known and some should-be-known, Gerald Hagen represents the Los Angeles scene. Recording his second album as a leader, Hagen performs with a clarity and spur of the moment response to just-occurring ideas as he admires, and then reshapes, ten tunes. Always in front as the leader of the tunes, Hagen nonetheless allows the other members of his group to shine, some of whom, such as Jerry Kalaf and Larry Koonse, have already recorded separately on the Sea Breeze Jazz label.

The excellence of Hagen's work on Stay Tuned is of such a high level that one would have expected him to be better known beyond the West Coast. Starting the album with "Warneing," a tune written over the changes of "What Is This Thing Called Love," Hagen at first employs a block-chord technique reminiscent of Shearing's, especially when Koonse plays the top notes of the chords as well. But when Hagen breaks loose into solos, it becomes evident that he is possessed of a swing and improvisational imagination that causes the listener to pay attention. Avoiding musical cliches and never repeating himself, Hagen seems to be a source of ideas, approachable while attaining, continuous depth throughout each track. Sure enough, on "Warne-ing." Hagen's and Koonse's extended solos evolve into a trading of fours with drummer Kalaf.

Speaking of whom, Kalaf, while making the melodic instrumentalists sound even better with his sympathetic energy, is an important part of the CD as well. Not only did Kalaf help master the recordings, but also he composed two of the more interesting tunes: "Bass (And Tenor) Tune" and "Bailing." Both expand upon an intriguing musical concept for fulfillment, "Bass (And Tenor) Tune" swirling in a 6/8 minorkeyed whirlwind of ever-increasing intensity and cohesion; and, "Bailing" involving the extension of long-and-then-halting melodic lines over light percussive colors. In addition, Kalaf's technique is such that he chooses just the right embellishments for Hagen's work, softly brushing the cymbals on "Beautiful Love" or subtly rumbling behind Hagen during his rubato introductions, such as the one on "Sweet And Lovely."

Consisting of mature musicians with an instinctive knowledge of where the others in the group may go, Hagen's trio (or, quintet on some tracks) moves as a solid yet flexible unit. On "Eiderdown," for instance, Koonse and Hagen trade the melodic lines, one minimally accompanying the other, before rejoining for a final statement before the solo section. Or, on "Alone Together," Hagen's always-entrancing lead-in consisting of chord substitutions and unhurried exposition with its internal harmonies evolves into Mannings' affecting tenor sax solo, unfailingly in the groove while he generates his own fire.

Hagen's reassuring touch, whether in the buildup of his solos or in the densely chorded lead-ins to the tracks, makes effective use of the instrument in expressing his thoughts, even as the technical precision of his attack invites analysis. Stay Tuned is a well thought-out CD that is consistent in its richness and confident performance, even as the spirit of the tunes may change to suit the intentions of the composers.

--Bill Donaldson

"Stay Tuned" L.A. Jazz Scene

LA Jazz Scene

GERARD HAGEN TRIO

Stay Tuned

(Sea Breeze Jazz)

As a jazz fan I am always grateful when performers document their trajectory by recording. It's been three years since their well-received debut album Far Horizons appeared on the Resurgent Music label. After four years of playing together, bassist Domenic Genova, composers Jerry Kalaf (drums) and Gerard Hagen (piano) lined up special guests Chuck Manning, Larry Koonse and Henry Franklin to produce their latest offering, a program of both standards and two Kalaf originals.

Gary Foster's "Warne-ing" swings off the disk as the trio provides a foil for Larry Koonse's lickety-split guitar picking.

Sweet and Lovely" opens with a new nwist, broadly phrased, that then springs into a jaunty tempo. The standard lets the soloists strut within a familiar vehicle. Hagen's melodic lines go down so smoothly.

With Manning on board the trio takes on Charlie Parker's "Confirmation."The rich motific tapestry of Kalaf's "Bass (and Tenor) Tune" is also graced by Chuck Manning's sax.

The seemingly lost in limerence piano intro to "Alone Together" gives way to Henry Franklin's driving bass work.

"Like Someone in Love," "Beautiful Love" and "Eiderdown" by Steve Swallow are followed by "Up Jumped Spring" as a radiant, fresh jazz waltz.

You can catch the Gerard Hagen Trio live (no cover) and pick up your own copy of their new entry from 8 PM to midnight on Tuesday, October 30 at Steamers Cafe in Fullerton.

--Cathy Jensen

"Stay Tuned" Jazz Scene

Jazz Scene Portland OR KMHD Radio

Stay Tuned, Gerard Hagen, piano.

Some time back I reviewed an earlier album by Gerard Hagen and I recall that I was most impressed with him at that time. I've not wavered in that opinion with this new release. He's a player who recognizes the value of space, and he also happens to possess a great touch and an overall high sense of musicality His basic trio is joined here and there by guests Chuck Manning on tenor and Larry Koonse on guitar and all account very well for themselves. The album kicks off with a Gary Foster line on the changes to What Is This Thing Called Love. It's called Warne-ing (for tenorman Warne Marsh) and employs an especially nice ride for Hagen and Koonse. Sweet And Lovelv is taken at a modest, walking tempo while Confirmation introduces Manning's tenor in cool, controlled fashion. Other highlights include Alone Together, Like Someone In Love, Beautiful Love and Up Jumped Spring. Hagen handles solo and comping tasks with skill, energy and class. Next time vou're in LA, check the jazz listings and see where he's playing.

Sea Breeze, 2001; Playing Time- 65:36, ****

--George Fendel

"Stay Tuned" All Music Guide

All Music Guide

GERARD HAGEN Stay Tuned

Sea Breeze Records

Gerard Hagen's Stay Tuned establishes two distinctive jazz climates. When the group gets into original or jazz standard material, it takes on a progressive jazz mien. "Bass (and Tenor) Tune" is a thoughtful and musically broad-minded interchange between the forward-looking bass of Domenic Genova and guest artist Chuck Manning on tenor. The trio puts on another face when it comes to the classic standards. Not that they play them straightforward, note for note. Hagen's pianistic extemporizing on "Beautiful Love" is delightful as he executes fluttering runs, putting the entire keyboard into play.

Nonetheless, there is a mainstream jazz feeling about it, with a flavor not unlike that embedded in early groups headed by Kenny Drew. In addition to Manning, the experienced and respected guitar styling of Larry Koonse enhances a couple of cuts. The major contribution comes on Steve Swallow's "Eiderdown," where he and Genova, a bass player of considerable talent, work in tandem to produce an engaging chorus or two. Hagen has a special way with the piano that sets him apart from today's young lions. He is gently respectful of melody, avoiding pianistic gymnastics and chord bashing. "Up Jumped Spring," as much as any track, captures the precious singing tones Hagen gets out of the instrument. Even when another member of the trio starts to blaze, such as Jerry Kalaf's drums on "Sweet and Lovely," the piano player holds himself in check. The session is in no way limited to thoughtful ruminations. Hagen leads the way, with Koonse's clear, ringing guitar in tow, on a tastefully swinging "Warne-ing," Gary Foster's paean to Warne Marsh. Based on this excellent multi-dimensional outing, Hagen shows he is a stylist to be reckoned with.

--Dave Nathan

All About Jazz January 17, 2002

"Stay Tuned" Jazz Review

REVIEWS Stay Tuned

 

The Gerard Hagen Trio (Sea Breeze)

It’s easy to Stay Tuned when one hears Jazz as handsomely crafted as that played by pianist Gerard Hagen, his trio and guests — tenor Chuck Manning, guitarist Larry Koonse and bassist Henry Franklin. This is one of those special albums on which every component slides neatly into place and everyone has his chance to shine. Having said that, it should be noted that there is nothing here that can be construed as setting Hagen and his companions apart from many another group whose members are as enthusiastic and talented as they. In other words, there are no transcendent voices here; everyone is simply quite good at what he does, which entails softening his voice when required and improvising at a consistently high level. Hagen, bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf (who wrote “Bass [and Tenor] Tune” and “Bailing Out”) have been playing together for about four years and have developed a close rapport that encourages ease of movement within an orderly framework. Hagen sidesteps monotony by adding Larry Koonse’s bracing guitar on four selections, Chuck Manning’s supple tenor sax on three others. Bassist Henry Franklin, who sat in for Genova during a recent trio gig in San Francisco, does the same on Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” and the Howard Dietz / Arthur Schwartz standard “Alone Together.” The trio is “alone together” on three numbers, “Sweet and Lovely,” “Beautiful Love” and a charmingly graceful reading of Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring.” Koonse adds spice whenever he appears, especially on the sunny opener, Gary Foster’s “Warne–ing,” and is a paragon of mellow swing on Johnny Burke / Jimmy van Heusen’s “Like Someone in Love.” Hagen, a romanticist with a mean right hand, is never less than impressive, while Kalaf and Genova (or Franklin) offer a strong rhythmic backbone on which to maneuver. A well–cooked serving of trio Jazz (with tasty side dishes) that’s a pleasure to digest.

Contact: Sea Breeze Records, P.O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448–1910. Phone 818–489–2055.

Track Listing: Warne–ing; Sweet and Lovely; Confirmation; Bass (and Tenor) Tune; Alone Together; Like Someone in Love; Beautiful Love; Eiderdown; Up Jumped Spring; Bailing (65:36).

Personnel: Gerard Hagen, piano; Domenic Genova, bass; Jerry Kalaf, drums. Special guests — Chuck Manning, tenor saxophone; Larry Koonse, guitar; Henry Franklin (3, 5), bass.

--Jack Bowers

Performance Review L.A. Times

Photo by Gabriela Rosa Da Silva.

Orange County/LA Times

JAZZ REVIEWS Out of the Rough and Into the Clear Outdoor Laguna Market an Idyllic Setting for Gerard Hagen to Show He's Become a Smooth Improviser

Gerard Hagen has been doing his homework. A few years ago when he was playing with sax man Dan St. Marseilles' quintet, the Lake Form resident was a promising jazz pianist whose playing had some rough edges. Sunday, on the outdoor stage at Laguna Village Market, Hagen worked with a trio and showed that most of those edges have been sanded smooth. That means he's now a spiffier, more complete improviser, and a better musician in general. The setting for Hagen's afternoon performance was idyllic. The market-a rustic assemblage of shops and a restaurant nestled in a grove of protective eucalyptuses-is situated 100 feet above the Pacific Ocean on Coast Highway, just east of downtown. The market's bandstand, a white, wooden hexagonal shaped affair, is parked on a grassy plot, below the market's bricked pauo. Add ocean breezes and a mostly cloudless sky and you have a delightful atmosphere in which to hear music.

Hagen seemed to prosper here, despite playing a rather limited -sounding Roland U-20 portable synthesizer; it ranged from attractive bell-like tones to complaining, whiny notes. The leader was solidly surrounded by upright bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Dick Weller-two very empathetic partners-and together, for the final set, the threesome explored a program of jazz classics, pop standards and originals.

Wayne Shorter's prancing "Children of the Night," first recorded by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers on the superb 1961 "Mosaic" album, was a challenging opener. A difficult tune that Hagen and company made appear easy, "Children" swayed between a tension -building section, underpinned by Colangelo's fat bass sound that offered a repetitive figure, and a "release," where the tune goes to surging swing time and the music flows.

Hagen, his gray locks wafting in the wind as he bent his head sideways over his instrument, soloed deftly, his lines moving gracefully in and out of the composition's subtle corners. He began his phrases with punchy thoughts, expanded those initial ideas by rhythmically and melodically juxtaposing them-turning them this way, then that to create an energized stream of sound. These statements were always concluded cleanly.

The keyboardist's accompaniment was just so. Colangeio's pliant-toned lines formed a buttress to the Hagen's improvisation, and Weller provided light cymbal taps and effervescent drum accents, giving Hagen firm but very elastic support. On "Children," Colangelo offered one of several excellent ent solos. He worked in the upper range of his instrument, his perfectly picked notes coming in neat packages that were rhythmically on the money, and that used space as a primary element. He favored small, chunky groupings-three descending notes, a similar idea but starting a tone lower, perhaps followed by a five-note line that ascended in a rush. The bassist then tied these strands together into a greater fabric, and occasionally would unleash a long, serpentine-like frag. ment for contrast. There was a like precise -yet- exploratory mood to the trio's other numbers. on's timeless ballad, "If You Could See Me Now," found Hagen delivering the melody, as Colangelo's bass and Weller's sandpapery strokes on brushes created a backdrop as comfy as an easy chair.

Hagen's "Far Horizon" was a tasteful bossa nova, and here the composer offered soft chords along with lines that leaped, and Colangelo dropped in another first-rate improvisation. "Beautiful Love" was but one tune where Weller revealed his assured skills as a soloist, here trading eight-bar phrases with his Colleagues. He approached the drum set musically, starting with whirring taps of the cymbals and gradually incorporating whaps and slaps at his drums which, pleasingly, had a singing quality.

Sufficient employment seems to be the only thing Hagen's group is lacking. The band, which usually features ace young trumpeter Kye Palmer, returns to the same site on May 15.

--By ZAN STEWART SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Performance Review L.A. Jazz Scene

L.A.Jazz Scene April 2000

STEAMERS CAFE PIANO SERIES

The Gerard Hagen trio is blessed with two talented composers, one at the piano and Jerry Kalaf on drums. A third of the tracks on their Far Horizons recording with Gary Foster on alto sax is original material. "Bass Tune," a chart by Kalaf, featured veteran Putter Smith, who sat in for Domenic Genova on bass for their appearance last month. This was a tune that only got better with your eyes wide shut to hear the aurora borealis dance across the midnight sky.

The trio was a living jazz laboratory, cooking with the seemingly effortless ease of consummate musicians through both the familiar and the, as yet unrecorded. Monk is irrisistable and the trio swung hard and connected on "In Walked Bud," also featured on the disc. Whether it was Cole or Kern, these guys kept pulling an endless supply of different textures out of their bag, fascinating the crowd with the way the pices matched or contrasted, weaving intensities together, never the same way.

--Cathy Jensen

Performance Review New Times

New Times Jan.27-Feb.2 2000

Today's corporate culture, where everyone's a free agent has unfortunately filtered into the jazz world. With a lack of steady work for bands, most players jump in with various ad hoc outfits at a moment's notice, and as a result, musicians often don't see themselves as part of a unit, working for the greater good of the music. Orange County pianist Gerard Hagen does his best to counter that; ever since he heard the Bill Evans Trio in college, the 40-year-old Hagen know he wanted to work in a trio, The seamless synchronicity of Evans, bassist Eddie Gomez, and drummer Elliott Zigmund remains a working model for Hagen, whose own trio plays a free show at the L.A. County Museum of Art on Friday. Hagen's compatriots bassist Dominic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf - are also team players who compose and look for the pretty notes. Kalaf has long drummed with the Jazz Tap Ensemble, and his rhythms spark the Hagen trio. He's also a prolific writer, with an ear toward lyrical melodies and nice chord changes. Its rare that a drummer is ias attuned to internal voice movements as Kalaf, and that only makes the bond with Genova and Hagen more profound. Until their next album - and it's about time for a follow-up to their fine Far Horizons - this is one of your best chances to hear a modern rarity; a jazz trio that's an actual unit.

--Kirk Silsbee

Performance Review L.A. Jazz Scene

L.A. Jazz Scene May 2006

LESLIE LEWIS QUARTET AT CAVALLINO RISTORANTE

Jazz vocalist Leslie Lewis is one of those rare finds. She has a contralto voice, producing a dynamic and lovely sound. She just naturally struts on most of her songs as she sings them. She hails from East Orange, New Jersey and her vocal influences are the inimitable Nancy Wilson and Cleo Laine. The Gerard Hagen Trio accompanied her, with special guest, tenor sax man, Chuck Manning.

Pianist Hagen played several solo warm up tunes before the set started, including "Sweet and Lovely" and "If You Could See me Now." It was inspiring to hear such fine piano playing. His trio, with Domenic Genova on bass and drummer Jerry Kalaf has been together now eleven years and produced several CDs --all recommended. These three musicians have impressive individual credits as well.

The Hagen trio started with two numbers, "How My Heart Sings" and "Autumn Leaves," providing some tasty and mellow sounds. Lewis kicked off the first set with an outstanding version of "On the Sunny Side of the Street." Lewis has the good taste in picking a selection of the best tunes from the popular American standards: "I've Got You Under My Skin," "The Very Thought of You" and "Try a Little Tenderness". She added impressive high notes while singing "'They Can't Take That Away From Me." Genova did some eloquent bass lines and Kalaf provided super rhythmic drumming.

Joining the quartet was surprise guest, Chuck Manning on tenor saxophone. Manning added some magical ambiance to the room with his sax playing in both "Just in Time" and "Days of Wine and Roses." My favorite ballad, of this night's performance was "Don't Go To Strangers." Lewis did some significant scatting throughout I the piece. The audience was very appreciative and responsive to Lewis and her musicians. Other excellent selections included Horace Silver's "Song For My Father," with lyrics sung by Lewis, "I Thought About You," Ellington's "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good" and "The Song Is You," ending a superb evening of jazz.

Lewis and the Hagen Trio are in the process of making their first CD together, which will be out later this year. See Hagen's website: www.gerardhagen.com. The Cavallino website shows upcoming jazz schedules and their Italian cuisine: www.cavallinoristorante.com. This quartet has more upcoming performances at Cavallino in the near future. Definitely recommended.

--Glenn A. Mitchell

Performance Review L.A. Jazz Scene

L.A.Jazz Scene

VENTURA VANGUARD CONCERT AT LAUREL THEATRE FEATURED THE GERARD HAGEN TRIO

VENTURA - Will Thompson's Ventura Vanguard at the Laurel is proving to be just the ticket for jazz aficionado. Thompson who, over the years, has dabbled in oroanizing and promoting jazz concerts. The secret to his current success appears to be to rent a smaller venue, book top players; then fill the room with fans. it seems to be working just fine, thank you, in light of his fourth concert in the current series on August 14, which featured the Gerard Hagen Trio. Recent successful Thompson concerts starred the trios of Pete Jolly and Theo Saunders and the Jonathan Dane Quartet.

 

Pianist Hagen. whose regular trio includes bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf, also works on occasion with guitarist Larry Koonse and bassist Henry "Skipper" Franklin, two of the jazz scene's luminaries. It was with the latter two that he performed in the Laurel Theatre's downstairs room on this recent gig.

 

The cozy room, which has all the necessary accouterments, has a seating capacity for only 50 persons, creating an intimate setting for the audience and the musicians. It is further enhanced with a Gallery of paintings and, on this particular evening, a display of fine jazz pictures by photographers Joel Milder and Gilbert Sanchez.

 

The concert proved to be an excellent and entertaining blending of talents for the room-filled crowd of local jazz supporters, there in a theater-type ambience to listen to and appreciate the musicians' playing of familiar jazz tunes. The group opened with "Autumn Leaves" then stepped up the tempo with "Oleo," followed by a duet of Franklin and Koonse doing "Round Midnight". It was an impressive showing of their command of their instruments, as was Hagen's ballad style, piano rendering of his composition, "Sheryl's Sunrise," a tune dedicated to his wife. Amongst the several other numbers played during the well-balanced two set program were: "In Walked Bud", Voyage", "Beautiful Love", "Whisper Not", "I Love You", "Solar", "Like Someone in Love" and "Warne-ing."

 

It was a reciprocally good evening for the musicians, and the audience. The players appreciated the fact that the people were focused on listening to their efforts, and the listeners were glad to be doing just that without the noise distractions so common in most jazz clubs. 

--Bob Agnew

Concerts

  • August 31, 2017
    Chez Papa Jazz Club ,  Paris,
     
  • September 1, 2017
    Chez Papa Jazz Club ,  Paris,
     
  • September 2, 2017
    Chez Papa Jazz Club ,  Paris,
     

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