Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In review--Skylarking

Tom Lellis & The Metropole Orchestra
Advenure Music

Jazz crooner Tom Lellis teams up with the 52-piece Metropole Orchestra of the Netherlands on Skylark-an album with a classic jazz sheen. Lellis offers a top-flight performance as his passionate vocals interpret Hoagy Carmichael's Skylark, Chick Corea's Straight Up And Down, Herbie Hancock's Tell Me A Bedtime Story, Tonhinho Horta's Mountain Flight and Antonio C. Jobim's Falando De Amor/Tema De Amor sung in sensual Portuguese. Lellis penned his own lyrics to the instrumental classics and included original material on three tracks.

The orchestra does more then lend its beautiful tones, timbres and colors. The arrangements soar, swirl and shoot stars around Lellis. Just listen to the use of woodwinds and brass on Carmichael's forlorn Skylark. Together the vocalist and orchestral musicians create a romantic and passionate atmosphere that could easily find itself as a soundtrack for Golden Era cinema.

Skylark was originally released in 2002, but I think its 2009 release comes at a good time since this music feels uplifting and would help to relieve listeners of depression due to the economy and other woes we currently face as a planet. In fact, the music is helping me lift myself out of my own despair. It acts as a balm, offers hope and has a tinge of nostalgia. More than an escape, the horns bring a sense of victory looming ahead, the vocals tackle despair, and the musicians giving their all, sends listeners zooming ahead with life.

The cited this album as a "stunning accomplishment", but I think this gorgeous vocal-centered jazz revisiting classic territory and backed by lush arrangements possesses a lot of healing potential. I personally find melodic jazz with positive lyrical content extremely healing. After all the big bands helped a lot of people pull themselves out of the Great Depression and WWII. And once again, jazz will help us get through another dark era so we can reach the other side.

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