Vocalist Alan Leatherman “Takes Five” For Some Jazz On Self-Released Detour Ahead
New York, NY (October 20, 2011) — On vocalist Alan Leatherman’s self-released Detour Ahead, he interprets Cole Porter, Lerner & Lowe, Billy Strayhorn, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington (and six others) with a natural-born feel for the lyric, making these classic American songs come totally alive under his stewardship. The voice is pure, in service to the song. As he says, “it’s all about the lyric.” The pristine beauty of Leatherman’s voice, in track after track, is organic and elegant. No auto-tune required.
Born into a household of Spinners, O’Jays and Motown, yet coming of age solidly within the generation of neo-soul singers who incorporate funk, hiphop and fusion to their mix, Leatherman has taken a detour into jazz and the artful construct of jazz vocalese. The concept for the album is the blues that one finds within love: love lost, love gained. To that end, he has assembled three World-Class musicians: Pianist Rick Germanson is the Teddy Wilson to his Billie Holiday. Germanson’s a New York City mainstay, a leader and a much sought-after sideman. Gerald Cannon is McCoy Tyner’s current bassist. Steve Williams was Shirley Horn’s longtime drummer. The combination of their exquisite chops on this timeless material (dig Germanson’s piano solo on “You’d Be So Nice To Come To”) behind these vocals—vocals that don’t try to reach yet lightly swing with unerring timing, precision and phrasing—results in a sophisticated listen of satisfying proportions.
“When I first started singing jazz,” Leatherman explains, “I had the problem, similar to Ray Charles, that I could sound like anyone. It took me awhile to develop my own sound.” Traces of Sinatra, Bennett and Connick, Jr. still seep through but Leatherman is his own man. Studying at Juilliard and then at New York University as a Master candidate in Vocal Performance, he wound up meeting Germanson and collaborating on what would become Detour Ahead.
On “Parker’s Mood,” Leatherman recreates a note-for-note Charlie Parker saxophone solo with the words of King Pleasure. “It doesn’t get any better than that,” says the singer. “It was the hardest track to record but one of my favorites.
“It’s been an exciting project,” he enthuses, “and it’s continued to evolve. My originals veer more towards neo-soul and funk but this was the album I felt strongly I had to make at that time and I’m glad I did.”
Leatherman probably won’t make another album like Detour Ahead again. The man’s got so much music in him, and his future looks promisingly bright. “The last track, the only non-jazz standard, an Amel Larrieux tune, points towards what’s to come for me.”
1) Detour Ahead
2) Blame It On My Youth
3) Bye Bye Blackbird
4) You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
5) I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face
6) Just One Of Those Things
7) This Is Always
8) Lush Life
9) Parker’s Mood
10) I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues
11) No One Else
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