Sunday, May 10, 2020

Album Review: Leslie Maclean Trio featuring Molly Hammer- Live at Black Dolphin

I didn’t add to the outpouring of grief in the Kansas City music community when the Tank Room closed in 2017.  I sensed something even better was coming to the performance space at 1813 Grand Boulevard.  Black Dolphin didn’t disappoint.

Black Dolphin’s excellent sound, superior service and the gold backdrop behind the stage immediately elevated the room to the top tier of music venues in Kansas City.  While inconsiderate patrons occasionally detract from the live music experience, notable artists including Steve Cardenas, Jerry Hahn and Lonnie McFadden invariably attract attentive listeners at the room next door to Green Lady Lounge.

The members of the audience at Black Dolphin on March 24, 2019, were almost certainly riveted by the Leslie Maclean Trio.  Pianist Maclean, bassist Tim Brewer and drummer Jerry Pollack play the cheerful form of bluesy jazz long favored by Kansas City audiences.  The auspicious vocalist Molly Hammer joins the trio for six of the eight selections on the jaunty Live at Black Dolphin.  

The notes accompanying the new release suggest “these tracks would have been considered mainstream in the 1960s.”  “Let’s Let It Happen,” the strongest of Maclean’s original compositions, evokes the era in which the likes of Eydie Gormé, Jeri Southern and Nancy Wilson were major attractions.  The throwback approach wouldn’t ordinarily appeal to me.  Yet two months into the quarantine, Live at Black Dolphin sounds like a dispatch from heaven.  I’d give most anything to attend a performance by Maclean’s band at the nightclub this evening.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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