Sunday, July 12, 2015

Another of South Florida's....(Allen Kanovsky discovers new talent at Arts Garage. Surprised? We think not!)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 07/12/15

…hidden JAZZ treasures is vocalist LeNard Rutledge whose performance at Arts Garage in Delray Beach brought the audience to its feet. Most of the audience had never seen or heard LeNard before. He definitely made an impression.

With him were Jaui Schneider on piano, Thomas Williams playing upright bass and the dynamic Mike Harvey at the kit. The play list was made up of easily recognizable tunes that JAZZ vocalists do. Some songs you can hear the Joe Williams or Lou Rawls or Johnny Hartmann influence. Others are strictly LeNard. They started with "You Don't Know What Love Is" and right off the bat you knew that this is not a run-of the-mill JAZZ singer. LeNard takes chances with all of it. The melody, the rhythm and the dynamics. Bent but not broken. Next was "I Thought About You" and the Joe Williams influence was evident. "A Day In The Life of a Fool" and there were the intonations of Lou Rawls. The bossa rhythm was perfectly executed by the trio. "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me" is a Duke Ellington composition. It took me back to my teen years when I had a band called The Bot Allen (me) Five and we played for B.S.Pully in a club called The Pump Room on Washington Ave. in Miami Beach. I sang that song at least a couple of times a night, 6 nights a week for 5 months. That was 1947 and I turned 16 while playing that gig. LeNard's scat was a lot better than mine. Jaui added some barrel-house and Thomas played an exciting solo as well. "Just Friends" and again he did some exceptional scat work. Thomas and Mike traded 4's and LeNard took it out ending on an effective flatted 5th. "The Very Thought of You" is totally LeNard. His intonation is perfect. He has me thinking of past loves. Wonderful memories. Swinging it they do "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me". The audience reacts, clappin' & tappin'. Jaui delivers a 5* solo and that ended the set. During the break I asked LeNard why he hadn't pursued a more national career. His answer was simple and admirable. "I wanted to be here with my wife to raise our children."  They will be grown and on their own soon and hopefully LeNard will be able to gain the recognition he deserves.

They start the 2nd set with "Lullaby of Birdland" followed with a swinging "Alone Together". They do "Speak Low When You Speak Love" to a samba beat. I am wide eyed at Thomas' solo to that rhythm. Most difficult for bass players. The transit from samba to bossa with "Girl From Ipanema". A song that tells a story is "Here Comes That Rainy Day". Each and every one of us has experienced it at some time in our lives. LeNard does "How High the Moon" in an unusually slow, almost a shuffle tempo but JAZZes it up with some exceptional scat lines. When he does "All The Things You Are" my mind again drifts back to the women I've held in my arms and now rest in the Lards hands. "Use Your Imagination" is fun.

A tablemate shouts out a request for "Since I Fell For You" and LeNard  accommodates him in arousing fashion. Nice, easy rhythm for "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" and then LeNard attempts to close with his traditional "That's All". An encore is demanded by this now "Wowed" crowd and he obliges with a Latin rhythmed "What Is This Thing Called Love". He leaves the audience standing in applause.

Last week I wrote about Noreena Downey, another under acclaimed artist. The Southland has many of them that are deserving of recognition. That is your job. Check listings, Get out and support live JAZZ & BLUES. You'll love it.

Al's Disclaimer:
A short note: The reason I write this is because I love music and words. I do not book acts. I do not promote acts. I do not accept invitations to review artists. I go to venues of my own choice. When and where is not influenced by anything other than who I would like to hear that night or day. If I don't like what I hear, I won't write about it. When I like it I let you all know. I never mention a name without asking permission. "Pardon me, Miss. Would you like to dance?" 

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