Simply titled Songs and Melodies , the album name is the only simple thing about this fantastic new record from the extremely talented pianist/composer and vocalist Jillian Lebeck. An absolutely gorgeous follow up to her debut release Living In Pieces, Songs & Melodies is more of a continuation of her first record than a radically different statement. Lebeck continues to exploit interesting harmonies and write unconventional chord changes that all seem to weave together and work wonderfully. The depth of her compositions and way she uses her voice is sublime.
There is a decidedly melancholy vibe about Lebeck’s music that was very evident on Living In Pieces and in her live shows but that doesn’t mean that its void of humour, buoyancy, or personality. For example check out the quirky ‘Round & Round’ that features some great clarinet work from Evan Arntzen. The doubling of Jill’s voice with bells results in a very different sound and Peggy Lee’s cello ostinato doubling with the clarinet under the melody keeps the tune pushing forward. The tune keeps my head bobbing throughout. Very cool!
Lennon and McCartney’s Julia is another highlight of the album. Jazz musicians recording pop songs has been going on for many years. It seems to be back in vogue in the last few years however and I for one love it! A musician of Lebeck’s talent applying her harmonic knowledge to a simple pop can only yield fantastic results. Much like her interpretation of Ani Difranco’s Everest on her first record, she succeeds again in honoring the tune but putting her own unique perspective on it. A cameo appearance by tenor saxophonist and ex-Vancouverite Seamus Blake displaying his vocal talent is also a perfect touch on this track.
The exclusive use of the Rhodes and Wurlitzer on the date is very refreshing and she has nurtured a very unique touch on these keyboards. Not switching back and forth from the piano allows for a very cohesive sound from start to finish and being a fan of the Rhodes and the Wurlitzer, I love it!
There are great performances all around: bassist Paul Rushka, drummer Paul Townsend, tenor saxophonist Jon Bentley, flautist Miranda Clingwall (the latter 2 are also responsible for the beautiful sound of this recording.)
Definitely a suggested buy!! Visit Jill at