Now the 'Middle' East has given us Milcho Leviev, who joined forces with this magnificent trio and all things considered, made it an even more noteworthy event. Leviev, armed with a Melodica, got every ounce of swing from this seldom heard instrument with clever solos and jumped right to the heart of hip on the exchanges.
Lenore Raphael is a bop inspired pianist with Bud Powell influences that are infused in her own inimitable style. Raphael treats the ballads with respect and gives new meaning to the life force of jazz, BeBop.
Clearly inspired by each other, these 4 musicians had fun and fun begets freedom and freedom begets SWING.
Lenore Raphael is a composer cum lyricist and has written some tunes that are fast becoming classics in the jazz milieu. "Johnny Jazz" a Raphael original, has garnered a lot of airplay with her instrumental version and is currently among the vocal tunes that Denise Donatelli has on her new album (to be released soon)
Milcho Leviev added another dimension to this fine tune. His contribution on the fours and his brilliant solo wove a tapestry of pure beauty and when combined with the fiery artistry of Raphael, the hip audience showed its approval with smiles and applause.
Among those in attendance were jazz vocalists Julie Kelly, Denise Donatelli, Judy Wexler, and Diane Hubka. Jazz writer Bob Agnew of the L.A. Jazz Scene and 'Song Scout" Roger Crane were also on tap, with pens in hand writing furiously of the nights events.
Marcia Hillman, the acclaimed lyricist who collaborates with Raphael on occasion and has made historic music with Joe Derise, Giacomo Gates and others, was also on hand.
Chris Colangelo plays the bass like he was born to do just that..His style was made to order for this group. His facile fingers fly magically on the fast tempos, or in contrast, caress the strings tenderly on the ballads. Colangelo is understandably much in demand and rightly so as he is among the premier bassists on the jazz scene.
Tim Pleasant always has the ensemble in mind in his responses and adds to the soloists message with perfect accents and embellishments.
It has been said that Lenore Raphael has a love affair with the piano and this love shines through in every performance. She is a true professional who honors America's music with unparalleled talent and elegance.
Los Angeles welcomed Lenore Raphael and company with open arms and hearts and she responded with a memorable and passionate performance.