Easy To Love
Label: Lizzie Thomas Music
Track listings: You Do Something To Me; Close Your Eyes; One Note Samba; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; I Only Have Eyes For You; Easy To Love; Just The Way You Look Tonight; You Stepped Out Of A Dream; Shadow Of Your Smile; Our Love Is Here To Stay.
Additional Personnel / Information
Lizzie Thomas (vocalist), Xavier Davis (piano), Ron Affif (guitar), Yoshi Wahi (bass), Greg Ryan (bass), Frank Levatino (drums), Alvester Garnett (drums, D’Amico drums), Janella Reichman (clarinet), Antoine Drye (trumpet), Frank Lacy (trombone), Anne Drummond (flute).
Born in Pittsburgh, after growing up in Georgia and studying music in Nashville, Lizzie Thomas has been part of the New York jazz scene for the past decade where she performs regularly. Easy To Love finds her singing ten of her favorite standards with a top-notch jazz group in settings ranging from duets to a septet. Lizzie Thomas considers Billie Holiday one of her main inspirations and at times her phrasing and expressive style recall the late Etta Jones (who was also touched by Lady Day’s style) although she has her own distinctive voice. She is uplifted by the inventive arrangements of pianist Xavier Davis and the tasteful and stimulating contributions of Davis, guitarist Ron Affif, either Yoshi Waki or Greg Ryan on bass, Frank Levatino or Alvester Garnett on drums, trumpeter Antoine Drye, trombonist Frank Lacy and clarinetist Janelle Reichman. From the start of a joyful rendition of the late 1920s tune “You Do Something To Me,” Ms. Thomas displays a real joy in her voice. She swing easily and digs into the meaning of the lyrics, even at faster tempos. “Close Your Eyes” starts out with sparse accompaniment over a vamp, really gets swinging in the second chorus, has fine guitar and trumpet solos, and ends with the singer sailing over the closing vamp. “One Note Samba” is taken for a wild ride at a speedy tempo. Lizzie Thomas manages to sound relaxed even when scatting at the rapid pace in unison with Drye’s trumpet. The momentum never slows down. Displaying her versatility, she also excels at the medium-slow tempo of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” before she gets cooking on “I Only Have Eyes For You.” “Easy To Love” is given a slow, saucy and soulful treatment, partly as a duet with pianist Davis before Drye takes a thoughtful muted solo. During this performance, the singer really draws out the long notes, putting plenty of feeling into her rendition. “Just The Way You Look Tonight” is surprisingly taken as a charming waltz and “You Stepped Out Of A Dream” is swung hard before Lizzie Thomas sings a touching version of “The Shadow Of Your Smile.” She starts with the rarely-heard verse and creates an intimate version with the horns harmonizing behind her. The enjoyable program concludes with “Our Love Is Here To Stay” which is taken as a relaxed duet with the bassist. Throughout Easy To Love, Lizzie Thomas is in top form, bringing out the hidden beauty in these timeless standards. It is easily recommended to lovers of the Great American Songbook and first-class singers.- Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers and Jazz On Record 1917-76
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