For Sara Leib jazz is musical passion, the epicenter of musical expression for an artist to let go and fully become one with their work. The highly anticipated sophomore release on OA2 records by Sara Leib embraces this concept to its fullest. Leib is a multi-faceted mezzo soprano that takes an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary sounds and gives each tune a fresh and distinctive face lift with some less than straight ahead arrangements while backed by an all-star band.
The singer does not hang out in the odd metered arrangements as a vocal act of the more self indulgent nature as do some similar talents. Lieb has a sincere desire to rework the tune to make the end result a bit more original and the first rate band assembled here goes along way in seeing her dream became a reality with pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Eric Harland giving Lieb the appropriate sonic firepower for a more organic approach on some more straight ahead classics. A unique and imaginative performance that scores well across the board.
The Cole Porter standard "Night And Day" shifts meter every eight bars and takes a fascinating post modern twist and it is Lieb's inner swing that allows for this effortless transition, not to mention an incredible performance by pianist Taylor Eigsti. "The Thrill Is Gone" is a tune Lieb embraces and the transference with the appropriate jazz sensibilities are remarkable as Lieb clearly owns this interpretation while drummer Harland's controlled sonic fury adds great character and texture while owning the pocket. Lieb plays it far straighter with the Ben Harper tune "With My Own Two Hands" while sacrificing nothing in terms of the crossover of jazz sensibilities. "Willow Weep For Me" is Lieb gone funk with a re-fried arrangement that lingers long after the last note.
There are a handful of singers that never make it to the level of "vocalist" much less "story teller" as they are seemingly caught up in their self indulgent world of vocal pyrotechnics with all the tricks, runs and multi-octave range American Idol has people convinced must be the backbone of every great singer.
Sara Leib is far more than a singer, Leib is an artist. Make no mistake that Leib can hold her own with any singer on any stage and while her vocal trick bag is as full as they come, Leib has the more important intangible qualities of knowing when to go for it and when to dial it back for even better effect.
As entertaining a vocal release as you may hear for the year, that are several already on the shelf but Sara Leib definitely goes in the memorable pile with a virtually flawless recording!