Vocalist Leon Thomas has seen work with everybody from Count Basie to Pharoah Sanders in the last twenty years and is probably one of the most innovative singers alive today. As a matter of fact, both Leon (who looks to be in his 40's) and Eddie Jefferson (in his 50's) were in town last weekend at the same time and it was embarrasingly obvious that the two of them are still doing more with music than all of the new young singers put together.
Leon Thomas has always combined a lot of different elements into his very unique style, and he is still adding to the mix most tastefully. One minute Thomas will be shouting a blues in the mold of the mighty Joe Williams, and the next minute he breaks out into a spacey yodeling that's a direct line back to West African vocal sources brought up to date and made to work perfectly. in the musical context of the moment. He can sing so soft and delicate that you'll swear Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" was Leon's all along, he can bellow like a moose, and he knows when to rest and let his very competent supporting band (featuring Neal Creeque on piano and Mervin Bronson on bass) take things on out.
Thomas' new addition this time around is the accomplished young harmonica master Sugar Blue (surprise of surprises!) who hails from New York City and records on the aptly-named Blue Labor record label. Needless to say, Thomas and band explored the blues a lot during their stay at Baker's, which made for some extremely interesting and colorful musical syntheses.
Our regrets to any up-and coming vocalists who missed the latest Leon Thomas appearance at Baker's don't forget to come next time, and bring your books!