Adding a new page to her songbook collection, Barbara Lea has produced another extremely appealing album this time choosing Jimmy Van Heusen songs. Deep in a Dream (Leacock does Babcock) is an obscure title until one reads in the notes that Lea’s original name was Leacock, and Van Heusen’s name was Edward Babcock. This celebratory work avoids capitalizing on Van Heusen clichés, songs that dwell in our collective unconscious such as "Swinging on a Star" or "High Hopes" and plays with some slightly lesser known tunes with wonderful results. While the collection does draw from Broadway shows and movies, the variety of emotional tone, as well as the expert arrangements, keeps each song fresh and interesting.
Deep in a Dream shows us again that Barbara Lea is a Grand Dame of vocal jazz. Her deft and graceful handling of such songs as "The Second Time Around" blend her vocal precision and emotional heart into a warm and loving ballad, while her rousing "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is so colorful and vivid it’s like watching the story unfold in Technicolor. Ms Lea is quoted in the liner notes, "There is nothing as sensual as singing." She convinces us of that in song after song, her elegant, subtle mastery of her art creates a powerful ambience, sometimes with the exotic allure of a smoky cabaret in the 1930s, sometimes with a great personal poignancy as in "But Beautiful." Jon-Erik Kellso on trumpet and Dick Miller on piano provide a delicious counterpoint to the deep dark voice, and the trio work together very well.
Get this album to round out your Barbara Lea collection, and if you don’t have a Barbara Lea collection yet, get this album to start one.