Written By Joslyn Danielson 1/6/22
Timeless jazz classics find a new life in the album by Leslie Vincent, a Minneapolis actor and singer who released her first album in August of 2021. With a background in musical theatre, she really brings the swing in her jazz cover album, “These Foolish Things”.
The album opens with an upbeat cover of Duke Ellington. The vintage swing beat with Leslie’s broadway belt sends the listener back to a slightly simpler time and sets the tone for the remainder of the record. Classy with a bit of sass, the vibe is that of a 30’s jazz lounge. Each instrument takes their turn in the spotlight, throwing the solo in a circle like a light hearted game of keep-away.
The album continues with the 1929 swing hit, “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, from the 1929 comedy musical, Connie’s Hot Chocolates. The upright bass gets its first time to shine in this track, showing off complex finger work and rich tones.
The title track “These Foolish Things” brings down the tempo for a melancholy, broadway-esque ballad. The lyrics speak of hidden reminders of a lost love found in things in items in your everyday life. Muted trumpet solos and sultry piano evoke images of looking out the window on a rainy day.
In a nice follow up to the previous song and stark change in vibe, “My Baby Just Cares For Me ” takes it up tempo with a plucky piano-led tune that one might hear in a saloon…but make it jazz.
Next is the clever and emotive “Ev’rything I’ve Got Belongs To You” from Rogers and Hart’s 1949 musical, “By Jupiter”. You can imagine a dance ensemble gliding around her throughout the song – jazz hands galore. A Caribbean jazz beat on the drums, complex piano chords, catchy hook melody. Following is a very impressive guitar solo with jazzy plucking, and the soprano saxophone comes in strong with insanely fast runs.
“The Nearness Of You” is another romantic ballad, very sweet, with minimal instruments. The focus is on Leslie’s smooth and sultry vocals. Soft at times, and bursting with emotion at others.
Gershwin’s “(Our) Love Is Here To Stay” comes next with almost a seamless transition from the previous song, guiding the mood into something more relaxing and hopeful. The whole album definitely flows together as a stage musical would, with dynamic ups and downs in mood. Emily Dussault joins for a vocal feature, harmonizing and blending with Leslie’s voice seamlessly.
Next on the album is the very cute and clever “Rhode Island Is Famous For You”. With comedic lyricism, the song points out all the things each state in the USA is famous for. It then ends with the endearing line “And Rhode Island is famous for you”. Guitar and saxophone solos ensue, leading into a lighthearted refrain in which Leslie really gets to show off her Broadway belt.
In contrast, the ever-sensual “Teach Me Tonight” comes next, with complex jazz guitar solos and off-beat bass hits. It’s the type of song you imagine watching through thick smoke at a late night jazz lounge.
With an acoustic and intimate feel, Leslie closes out the record with her folky version of “Moon River”, singing us to sleep with this classic lullaby, using simply her voice and her ukelele. Considering this is the method she uses to write her parts in all her music, it is integral to her writing process and fun to hear where the magic begins.