Following “Of Two Minds” 2008 and “Keeper Of The Flame” 2010, “Midnight Sun” is the third release by jazz vocalist Leslie Lewis and the Gerard Hagen Trio (Gerard Hagen piano, Domenic Genova bass, Jerry Kalaf drums) on the Surf Cove Jazz label. Like their previous recordings, “Midnight Sun” features guest artists, in this case trombonist Joey Sellers and tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning. GERARD: “Both Joey and Chuck are willing to jump into any musical situation and they are fearless improvisors. Since Leslie approaches her repertoire with new eyes on every performance, they are perfect collaborators for her.”
One of the aspects of this music is space used in the way Leslie phrases the melodies. GERARD:“Leslie and I played the tunes a few times and as she sang the way she felt them I would notate what she sang. This is how we came up with the treatment for the melodies.” “Midnight Sun” uses 5 bar phrases and “It’s Alright With Me” alternates between meters of 4/4 and 3/4 time. Leslie makes these phrases sound natural, as though this is the way these melodies have always been sung.
At the beginning of 2011 Gerard added Joey and Chuck as guest artists on a monthly job his trio had with Leslie. At each performance they learned more about the sound of the group and eventually Gerard began writing arrangements that featured Leslie with the two horns. These arrangements became the repertoire for “Midnight Sun”. GERARD: “I had always loved the combined sound of tenor sax and trombone. The register of those instruments fits well with Leslie’s voice. Only after we had performed the music live a few times and then recorded it did it dawn on me that Leslie had chosen a repertoire of songs about love in all it’s varied states. I don’t what, if anything, that means!”
The repertoire covers the American song book from George Gershwin and Cole Porter to Burt Bacharach and Paul McCartney, all with Leslie’s trademark swinging rhythm and colorful voice.