Jazz vocalist Tom Lellis is a purveyor of optimism. Feeling down and lonely? Then it might be a judicious and soul-satisfying move to break out Lellis’ new release, which carries forth the mark of excellence witnessed on his 2004 venture, "Southern Exposure." With many of these Brazilian flavored jazz pieces, the vocalist’s hip and sometimes glib delivery marks an urban type of enhancement to notions of tropical paradises and multicultural elements. And with pianists Kenny Werner, Gary Fisher and Dave Kikoski serving as strong foils, Lellis’ resounding lyricism and touching balladry spawn a panorama of good cheer.
Lellis benefits from a worldly aggregation of musicians. On "Baubles, Bangles & Beads," flutist Jeremy Steig’s whispery lines and Lellis’ lilting vocals atop a sleek samba groove render lucid imagery of a sun-drenched Brazilian beach. Otherwise, Lellis’ hip swagger is reminiscent of jazz vocal great Mark Murphy. Therefore, he lives and breathes the storylines with a deeply personalized gait that surfaces via his uplifting line of attack. In various spots, the soloists counterbalance Lellis with fluidly executed choruses, as they often reengineer primary themes with lushly harmonic underpinnings. On "Isle Awhile," Kenny Werner’ steers a piano trio format teeming with floatation-like qualities, while Lellis sings with the panache one might hear at an upscale metropolitan lounge. They also fuse a jazz waltz into "The Beatles" pop classic, "Norwegian Wood." In sum, Lellis has produced yet another jaunty and especially pleasurable set. Toss your troubles by the wayside; the artist’s muse is therapeutically entertaining.