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Tom Lellis

Avenue of the Americas

(Beamtide; US: 20 Jun 2006; UK: Available as import)

Keith Jarrett, the Yellowjackets, and Pat Metheny are three sources of instrumental composition to which Lellis here provides words.  Jeremy Steig guests on flute in a version of the Lennon-McCartney “Norwegian Wood”, which, like several other items, features excellent piano or keyboard work from Gary Fisher. This is Lellis’s arrangement, with some help from Fisher, who arranged several other items on his own. So did Lellis, and on Jarrett’s “Lucky Southern/Maracangalha”, he’s overdubbed, on guitar quais Brasiliana and vocal bass, and as a whistling section. On the track featuring Lellis singing and playing piano, keyboards, and percussion, Steig again does the avian stuff on flute.

Providing words for the neglected pianist Donald Brown’s “Isle Awhile”, he also conjures vibes sounds from keyboard, and deserves acclaim for having brought in the ace pianist Kenny Werner to accompany and solo, both very well. No mention of an arranger there, or on “For Wisdom”, tune by Messrs. Ferrante and Haslip of the Yellowjackets, words by Lellis, piano accompaniment by Dave Kikoski, a one-off guest. Lellis likes writing about wind, water, weather, sky. If you’ve gathered from this that the overall effect is soothing, the foregoing review hasn’t failed. And as well as piano, guitar, vocal bass, and percussion on the medley of two songs, one of which is the penultimate number, the melodious gentleman’s fresh and youthful-sounding voice duets with itself. Harmoniously. Good conspectus of current genres too.


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