Barbara Levy Daniels – Come Dance With Me – Album Review
Here’s a lady with some real style!
You know it’s interesting…I’ve often heard this style of jazz before – but almost all of the experiences I’ve had…at least that I can remember…seemed to come with a male set of vocals attached to it. So pretty much right from the pressing of play on Barbara Levy Daniels new album Come Dance With Me; I’m personally guaranteed to have a pretty unique listening experience overall – and you know I dig that dear readers.
But when doing my research while listening to the smooth opening of this album that starts with “The Second Time Around,” I began to discover that I was about to be in for a much more interesting journey than perhaps I had at first realized. Barbara! Why didn’t you TELL ME you lived such an AMAZING life? And it all starts with none other than Ray Charles giving his official support to Barbara and telling the management at ABC Paramount records to SIGN her to a record-deal in 1958 when she was only TWELVE.
You’re all reading this right? That alone is incredible. She recorded a bunch throughout her youth before she went on to earn TWO masters degrees as an adult. I repeat – you’re all reading this right?
“The Second Time Around” lets you have an instant idea of the style of music you’re in for and the committed performances you’ll hear from Barbara Levy Daniels. As I said in the opening intro – I recognize sounds like this from classic jazz-crooners like Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra, but as far as the female vocals my closest comparison would be the late, great Elaine Stritch. And I mean that in the greatest of complimentary ways…it’s that majesty of real showmanship that graced Elaine’s every moment on stage; a feeling that is every present here on this opening song and throughout the album here from Barbara.
I mean…it SOUNDS like fun doesn’t it? Yeah I listen to rock/electro/alternative/indie and pretty much anything other than Barbara’s genre except for country-music on a very regular basis…but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something for me, or for anyone that might feel that same description applies to them. Truly…I might not know much; but I know a good time being had by all when I hear one. Barbara is clearly having the time of her life on a song like “I Thought About You,” and puts every bit of herself into the performance, giving it just the perfect amount of flair, style and attitude.
And ooo! Another thing I know! I know a stand-bass when I hear one; and a stand-up bass-player when I hear one too! Boris Kozlov is just a master on this track and really provides the melody driving this jazzy little number, “I Thought About You.”
I think it was originally the title-track that led me to the Elaine Stitch comparison earlier. I was, and am, still a huge fan of her classic style, and in turn can’t help but love this album’s centerpiece, “Come Dance With Me.” This piano-led song has an old-school theatrical element to it…real performer’s kind of music…I want to say lounge-music, but I don’t know…Barbara entertains me more than the music I’d typically associate with that. It’s a sweet song, excellent piano from John diMartino that carries on right into the next song “Like Someone In Love.” I love hearing Barbara switch her tone to suit the song as she performs and sings them; she really has the right instincts to communicate the feelings of a song through her inflections. She does a fantastic job of bringing you into her world and letting you experience the world through her eyes by bringing in insightful emotions into her music that you can audibly feel inside you & relate to.
Many if not all of these songs are about love and it’s different shapes, forms and feelings. One of the most entertaining I found was “The Tender Trap;” the real-tale of how one goes from being single to being romantically involved. Great song overall and another lively performance from Barbara here; it’s playful & dramatic in the right spots and a highlight for sure in this first half of Come Dance With Me.
Houston Person, playing the saxophone definitely deserves a moment of our time here for his role and incredible performance on “All The Way,” taking the level of this song from good to great. Barbara sounds like a living legend to me; it’s no surprise to me that she’s surrounded by the incredible musical talent around her. Lending a hand throughout many of the tracks, and notably again on the song to follow “But Beautiful,” Houston is one of the many pieces in play that support Barbara and make this album & sound truly work as wonderfully and magically as it does.
Here we go…right away on “Here’s That Rainy Day,” that’s my kinda jazz right there. I love that smooth guitar, piano and percussion sound; it’s pretty warm and inviting for a ‘rainy day.’ Yeah…Mr. Gene Bertoncini really gets his moment here with some great guitar-tones & solo on this song…absolutely love the sound he’s getting in his playing & performance…real emotion & passion in the playing there. Excellent ending with Barbara on this one as well…this song fades away perfectly.
Waxing poetically about the future to come, “All My Tomorrows” is an interesting song for the fact that you can audibly hear Barbara continue to build strength & confidence as the song plays along. After another excellent saxophone-solo from Houston, you end up in a very strong performance that rises right to the end…there’s extra conviction in this song; Barbara will make you believe in those endless possibilities tomorrow truly holds for us all with an extremely determined & melodic tone.
If anything at all…there are moments as the album plays, perhaps around “Imagination” towards the end of Come Dance With Me, where some of these sounds do tend to blend together; on repeat it might take you a few times through before you absolutely separate one track from the other. Barbara is stoic in her style, and though many of her tracks might sound somewhat similar they all do truly do something outstandingly different from the song before no matter how subtle the changes. It’s often hazy, dream-like music that sometimes moves five tracks onward before you realize you’ve drifted off somewhere beautiful in your mind just listening to the music and Barbara’s tender voice. One the other hand entirely; there’s no one else out there that I know of that sounds like Barbara does right now; I’m positive I could pick her out of any musical line-up from her signature sound & gracious style.
As the album winds down, “Oh You Crazy Moon” provides a semi-sweet tale of love & heartbreak. Another standout combination of piano from diMartino, guitar from Bertoncini and drums from Shinnosuke Takahashi all perfectly coming together for this sweet little song and Barbara really puts in a vibrantly entertaining tone to her lyrics and vocals. It’s interesting to me…it really is music I can picture being performed…hopefully I’ll be so lucky as to see her play these live one days…
“Darn That Dream” is a great, isolated & daring final tune. Left alone with only the guitar to back her voice, this song has the sweetness of Judy Garland mixed right into it…it really makes for a beautiful ending to a fantastic journey into a smooth jazz sound with Barbara. With all the talent surrounding her and the incredible talents of her own, Barbara Levy Daniels Come Dance With Me has real heart you can hear all throughout the album, and a timeless sound that can’t help but bring a smile to your face and a bright musical-ray of sunshine to your day.
Join the thousands of bands & artists reviewed at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!