Chicago-based Lesley Byers & the Jazz Cats are a swingin' jazz band known nationally for it's outstanding musicality, incredible arrangements and high-energy performances. 'If not for the 2003 copyright date, you'd think that Lesley Byers & the Jazz Cats, Twisted, was some newly discovered session from the 1950's. It has the intimate, casual feel of that period with a fine singer backed by a hip small combo. Lesley Byers has a timeless vocal sound, alternately seductive and innocent. She could easily be slotted next to Chris Connor, June Christy or Rosemary Clooney. Her energy and coolness are impeccable. She can work a Jazz theme like 'Twisted' with the best of them and, when she has to play the 'girl singer' role on a standard like 'How High The Moon,' she has the natural class and sunniness of a '50's chanteuse. The Jazz Cats are a very tasty combo who cover the Swing to Bop continuum very well. With Ed Enright's baritone in the lead, the group often has a Gerry Mulligan cast to it, although on Enright's solos he sounds more like Pepper Adams. Class and hipness work in equal measure here with marvelous results.' - Jerome Wilson, Cadence Jazz Magazine, 3/04 'Lesley is one of the bright new stars on the horizon getting ready to let the world know about her music. She sounds like a seasoned professional with her phrasing on evergreens like 'How High the Moon', 'Just Squeeze Me' and 'Over the Rainbow'. Her interpretation of every song in the CD 'Twisted' is classic swing so it's no wonder her star is shining already....Lesley Byers has ARRIVED!' - Jim Stone, Big Band Swing, WLNZ, 9/04 'Vocalist Lesley Byers and her Jazz Cats, who drew praise from this reviewer for their earlier album, 'A Slick Chick,' are back with more heartwarming jazz from the heartland that is anything but Twisted. There have been some changes in personnel, but the basic format remains the same, with Byers in the forefront on every number and the Cats purring cozily behind her. 'Twisted', of course, is Annie Ross's wry takeoff on tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray's well-known bop riff, and Byers (with some vocal 'help' from the band), swings right into it, stepping aside for Ed Enright's baritone solo and some unison blowing before neatly wrapping up the package. The rest of the material is even more familiar, consisting entirely of standards and a pair of jazz ensigns, 'Straighten Up and Fly Right' and 'Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.' Byers and the Cats manage to make each of them seem fresh and charming, with 'Spring,' 'Straighten Up,' 'How High the Moon' and Cole Porter's 'Too Darn Hot' among the high spots. Soloists aren't named but it's easy to affirm that they include Enright, Angelaccio, Vaitsas, Mahieu and Vinsel, each of whom has some engaging ideas to share. Byers leads a ship-shape ensemble that plays with dexterity and gusto. In the liner notes she writes that they've traveled 'a zillion miles together,' which bears witness to the love they must have for the music and the part they play in helping to keep it alive. As I wrote in that earlier review, Byers and the Cats must be even more delightful to see as well as hear, but if you're not in their neighborhood, Twisted will at least give you an inkling of their talent, which is impressive. ' - Jack Bowers, All About Jazz, 3/04 From hot jazz to cool swing, Lesley & The Cats have been delighting audiences of all ages all across the country.
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