Tom Lellis - And In This Corner

A jazz singer who deserves to be much better known, Tom Lellis made his recording debut on 1979's And In This Corner. Lellis was a professional singer from the time he was 15, learning piano when he was 24 and performing as a singer-pianist three years later. Surprisingly he did not record until he was 33, by which time he was a fully-formed performer with a sound and conception of his own.

On And In This Corner, Lellis heads a sextet that includes flutist Jeremy Steig, pianist Bill Dobbins (the singer plays piano on half of the songs), bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Lellis contributed original lyrics to a few songs by other jazz musicians (including Keith Jarrett’s “Lucky Southern,” Wayne Shorter’s “E.S.P.” and McCoy Tyner’s “Man From Tanganyika”), performs four of his originals, and sings Chick Corea’s Times Lie” and a slower than usual version of “Begin The Beguine.” The fresh material, Lellis’ appealing voice, and his adventurous style make And In This Corner a must for fans of jazz singing. 

SKU: IC1090

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Vocalist Tom Lellis' career has been profound indeed, having sang, played piano or opened for the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, piano great Bill Evans and jazz organist Jimmy Smith. On this Inner City release he has surrounded himself with a bevy of big-name jazz talent including Eddie Gomez (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Jeremy Steig (flute), Skip Hadden (percussion), and Ron Busch (vibes). Tracks include timeless standards revamped in the Lellis style such as "E.S.P.," "Begin the Beguine" and Keith Jarrett's "Lucky Southern" as well as some Lellis originals.

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist Tom Lellis
Instruments Music and Musicians
Composer No
Accompanist/ Conductor Eddie Gomez (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Jeremy Steig (flute), Skip Hadden (percussion), and Ron Busch (vibes)
SKU IC1090


Customer Reviews (2)

A TKO - Terrific Knock Out!Review by Big Toots
The cover of jazz vocalist Tom Lellis’s recording, In This Corner offers an image of an early 20th Century boxing match between Georges Carpentier and Joe Beckett – with Beckett on his belly and the Frenchman headed to a neutral corner, arms raised in apparent victory. It’s an appropriate cover image because in today’s day and age, male jazz vocalists are so rare and so commercially unsuccessful (except for Tony Bennett, who considers himself a jazzer) that those singers are more like the supine Beckett. That’s unfortunate since with this terrific recording Lellis shows he’s an artist worthy of much greater recognition as a singer, lyricist and pianist - and maybe a pugilist, too.

Drawing on a legacy dating back to greats Babs Gonzalez, Eddie Jefferson, Jon Hendricks and more recently, Mark Murphy, Giacomo Gates, and “hipspokenword” advocate, Tony Adamo, Lellis not only offers fine vocals on this 1979 session – true jazz singing – but, he’s also scripted pungent and thoughtful lyrics to selections composed by great modern jazz artists (Keith Jarrett (“Lucky Southern,”) Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis (“E.S.P.”), McCoy Tyner (“Man from Tanganyika”) and Chick Corea (“Times Lie”)). He tops that by playing terrific piano on five cuts, as well. That’s one talented dude.

The card here includes up-tempo heat (“Lucky Southern” (two takes), and “E.S.P.”), an obligatory Porter classic (“Begin the Beguine”), and four intriguing Lellis originals – the moody “Nightshades,” a fierce burner in “One on One,” the “Fiesta”-like “Lluvia,” and the highly expressive “Atlantis, Pompeii and Athens”). This is intelligent, deeply moving music. Lellis pulls no punches as a singer or lyricist. His voice is muscular and he riddles his lyrics with intensity at every tempo and groove.

The team in Lellis’s corner – and they are superb - includes pianist Bill Dobbins (who sears on “Lucky Southern” and “E.S.P.”), jazz-rock flautist, Jeremy Steig, Ron Busch on vibes, the legendary Eddie Gomez’s bass, Jack DeJohnette’s intense drumming and percussionist, Skip Hadden.

In This Corner is a knockout recording by a champ musical artist and crew. You’ll certainly hear and know that before counting to 10.

(Posted on 4/28/2015)
And In This CornerReview by Simon Sez
It is strange that Tom Lellis hasn’t become famous yet. Even back in 1979 when he recorded And In This Corner, he was a great jazz singer, and there is a lot less competition around today among male singers.

On And In This Corner, which was his first record, he leads a six-piece group that includes Jeremy Steig, plays piano on half of the tunes, and features his own lyrics to songs written by Keith Jarrett, Wayne Shorter and McCoy Tyner. Not too many singers have done that! He also comes up with interesting things to say on “Begin The Beguine” and Chick Corea’s “Times Lie.” So get this CD and the next time someone asks you who Tom Lellis, you’ll be able to tell them!

Simon Sez: Tom Lellis’ And In This Corner (IC 1090) was the debut of a great jazz singer and lyricist even if few still know who he is. (Posted on 5/6/2014)

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