Broadway belter and comic performer Lea DeLaria proves she's legit on her jazz debut, a collection of reinterpreted numbers from stage musicals.
Broadway belter and comic performer Lea DeLaria proves she's legit on her jazz debut, a collection of reinterpreted numbers from stage musicals. Sources range from popular shows (Follies, Little Me) to lesser-known productions (The Wild Party, Frank's Wild Years), with the arrangements varying from the lively "Welcome to My Party" to the laid-back "All That Jazz." Throughout, a lean combo backs the singer without overshadowing her. As an actress, DeLaria brings a skillful expressiveness to her singing, which helps drive home numbers that might otherwise seem well-worn—notably "Cool" from West Side Story. DeLaria's voice is more brassy than satiny, but she has chosen settings that showcase her strong points. On the knockout opener, Sondheim's "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd," she slides gracefully from restrained to blaring, gentle to commanding, without ever losing control. In the process, she takes an old tune and gives it a twist so fresh that even purists—jazz and Broadway alike—will listen with open ears.—WH