By Dan McClengaghan
Vocalist Leonard Patton can be heard and seen often in the San Diego County, California area, making his joyful noise. Often, he appears in the company of the Danny Green Trio, one of the jazz world’s premier piano trios. The live shows are exhilarating affairs, with Patton—covering everything from Stevie Wonder to Michael Jackson to David Bowie to the Great American Songbook—displaying a seemingly effortless ability to put a song across with a bursting-with-life elan.
On Heard and Seen Patton is, again, in the company of the Danny Green Trio, a group now tagged as “LP And The Vinyl.” The album opens with a Green tune—lyrics by Patton—entitled “The Lonely Band.” A bright tune with an infectious bounce which showcases Patton’s approach to perfection.
This group’s live shows are riveting. Patton gives off a mesmerizing vibe. When he starts singing, you can’t take your eyes off him, and that certainly comes through in this studio recording, straight out of the gate. And it remains so throughout this set of well-chosen covers and one more tune from Green, “Night Waltz,” which couldn’t be more different in mood from his energetic opener, playing out as a gorgeous ballad, a love song of the highest order, Patton’s vocal delivered with poignancy and tenderness, with a supple solo from Green slipped into the mix.
“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is a brilliant reimagination of the 1985 hit by the group Tears For Fears. Patton here is at his most nuanced. Green, with bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm, shift into a pure and subtle jazz-groove heaven on the break—three-way interplay as pretty as anything they have put on record.
David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” projects a cool majesty; The Beatles’ “The Fool On The Hill” and Noel Gallagher’s “Wonderwall” get distinctive reshapings, and “One Hundred Ways,” originally appearing on Quincy Jones‘ The Dude (A & M Records, 1981), is presented in a straight ahead fashion, a reminder of what a great song it is.
The set closes with The Great American Songbook jewel, “Softly, As in A Morning Sunrise.” The sound is a bit foreboding as it opens up (thunder clouds gathering?), before the sun breaks through for a shift into a sprightly rhumba mode, with Leonard Patton, once again, wearing his joy on his sleeve.
See review at All About Jazz