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.