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 ” - Brent Black

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

CD/LP/Track Review Leslie Lewis: Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York (2013) By  C. MICHAEL BAILEY,  Published: August 26, 2013 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” - C. Michael Bailey

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

Saturday, August 31, 2013 Leslie Lewis & Gerard Hagen in New York Year: 2013Style: Jazz vocalLabel: Surf Cove JazzMusicians: 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 Trio: Midnight 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, NYRecording Engineer: Angela PivaAssistant Engineer: Emmanuel GrantAdditional Recording at: Studio "J" Los AngelesEngineer: Jerry Kalaf ” - C. J. Bond

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

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 WilliamsLooking ForwardLeslie 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!” - H. Allen Williams

— "Midnight Sun" Jazz Times

  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 MagazineLESLIE LEWISMIDNIGHT SUNSURF COVE JAZZ 102Love 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” - Alan Bargebuhr

— "Midnight Sun" Cadence Magazine

  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. PetersLeslie 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/” - John M. Peters

— "Midnight Sun" THE BORDERLAND

  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: 2012Style: Jazz VocalLabel: Surf Cove JazzMusicians: 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   ” - CJ Bond

— "Midnight Sun" JAZZMUSIC by: CJ Bond

  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 FrancesMidnight 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  ” - Susan Frances

— "Midnight Sun" Yahoo

  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 JAZZBy 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  ” - C. MICHAEL BAILEY

— "Midnight Sun" ALL ABOUT JAZZ

  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 SCENEby: George FendelMidnight 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.  ” - George Fendel

— "Midnight Sun" Jazz Scene

  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 JAZZBrent BlackLeslie Lewis With The Gerard Hagen Trio Midnight Sun SCJ 2012After 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.  ” - Brent Black

— "Midnight Sun" Critical Jazz