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Bebop Spoken There

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Saturday, June 03, 2017

CD Review: Allegra Levy - Cities Between Us

Allegra Levy (vocal/composer); Kirk Knuffke (cornet); Stephen Riley (tenor); Carmen Staaf (piano/arr); Jay Anderson (bass); Billy Drummond (drums).
(Review by Lance).
The second album by the young New York singer is in complete contrast to her first album which was distinctly a display of downhearted yearning. Well done, but one to file alongside Gloomy Sunday.
There's a much more upbeat feel to this one. Mainly originals, except for Yesterdays and a couple of post bop standards with lyrics by Levy.
The voice is compelling. I didn't want to just listen, I wanted to meet her and, if I'd have been 60 years younger, I'd have wanted to date her!
When I was 60 years younger I felt the same way about Peggy Lee and Jeri Southern!

This gives an idea where Allegra Levy is coming from and, it has to be said, she fully deserves to be bracketed with the aforementioned divas.
Allegra met her boyfriend in Hong Kong where she lived for awhile. Now she's in New York and he's still in Hong Kong - maybe even popping into Ned Kelly's for a snifter - which is the inspiration for the title track.
The lyrics are worthy of any contemporary writer I didn't like Dear Friend - loved the words but not the music. Still, have you ever bought an album where you loved every track equally?
Ironically, Dear Friend is Allegra's favourite so I guess I won't get a Christmas card from her!
The band is absolutely cracking. Levy quotes Chet Baker as an inspiration and Knuffke's cornet brings Chet to mind. Did Chet ever record on cornet? That would have been lyricism to die for! Still, Knuffke is one of the most beautiful sounding players I've heard in recent years. Riley's tenor adds to the ambience, Staaf's piano and arrangements are ace whilst Drummond and Anderson are natural swingers.
One of the most enjoyable vocal albums I've heard this year.
Cherry Blossom Song; Lullaby of the Orient (Duke Jordan); I Shouldn't Tell You; Misery Makes the Music; Yesterdays (Jerome Kern); Dear Friend; Sleepwalk with me; Soy Califa (Dexter Gordon); Down Sunday (John McNeil); Leaving Today; Cities Between Us
Lance.

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