Lea DeLaria, by no means an artist content with remaining static, has led a fascinating, varied and unpredictable career which has taken her from the comedy clubs of downtown New York to centre stage on Broadway and the silver screens of Hollywood. She also happens to be one of the world’s greatest jazz singers and has garnered widespread critical acclaim for her inspiring live performances.
The Live Smoke Sessions, her third release on Warner Jazz, finds her doing what she does best; tearing her way through the Great American Songbook in a small intimate night club with a cracking band in tow. Her group on this recording features renowned pianist Gil Goldstein, storming saxophonist Seamus Blake and a guest spot from our very own Ian Shaw. Filled with up-tempo swingers and moving ballads, the album is an opportunity for Lea to showcase her matchless bop-influenced creativity. She swoops, soars, whispers and belts her way through standards including ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’, ‘Night And Day’ and ‘Come Rain Or Come Shine’, combining an impressive range with effortless delivery.
It is this raucous swing that makes 'Smoke' so appealing, as DeLaria crushes the idea of standards as jazz prosaic. In her hands they’re salacious, sleazy and hip as hell and for that we should all say, AMEN.