Allegra Levy is a refreshing talent to enter the jazz scene. Her debut release, Lonely City (Steeple Chase Productions, 2014), departs from the usual fare offered by up and coming vocalists. Rather than revisit standards from the American Songbook category of oldies that have been remade to infinity, Levy composed music and lyrics to all 11 tracks.
The core band consists of Adam Kolker, tenor sax; John Bailey, trumpet; Carmen Staaf, piano; Jorge Roeder, bass; and Richie Barshay, drums and percussion. Guest musicians are Steve Cardenas, guitar on “Anxiety”; Lolly Bienenfield, trombone on “I Don’t Want to Be in Love”; Mark Feldman, violin on “Everything Green” and “Clear-Eyed Tango”; Andy Green, guitar, and Aubrey Johnson, vocal, on “Lonely City”; and Fung Chern Hwei, violin, Victor Lowrie, viola, and Mariel Roberts, cello, on “The Duet.”
“Anxiety” opens the set. It has a moderate, low-swing groove. Levy sings of an emotion she wishes would leave her, make her stop worrying about a relationship. Her voice is soothing, despite the lyrics of unease. All the musicians on this track have significant impact, even those who are mostly background. Kolker, Staaf and Cardenas stand out.