By Hrayr Attarian
Leslie Beukelman Golden Daffodil
Leslie Beukelman – Vocals
Rob Clearfield – Piano
Patrick Mulcahy – Bass
Jon Deitemyer – Drums
Twelve years after her auspicious debut, vocalist and songwriter Leslie Beukelman returns with the equally introspective and more mature Golden Daffodil. Fronting a rhythm trio of accomplished jazz musicians, Beukelman goes beyond genres on a delightful mix of originals and covers. The selection of songs highlights her talents to the fullest and makes for an engaging listening experience.
The album opens and closes with Beukelman’s alluring compositions. “Dear Alice” is a tender love ballad that is laced with a yearning melancholy. On it Beukelman sings in soft, emotive whispers over pianist Rob Clearfield’s haunting, resonant vamps. Drummer Jon Deitemyer enhances the dramatic ambience with his reverberterating cymbals. On the country-tinged “Wasting Time,” the warm instrumental refrains cradle Beukelman’s sensual, lilting voice. The tune has a laid-back and wistful mood, and its buoyant interpretation is subtly confident.
Elsewhere, Beukelman brings a delightful effervescence to the standard “September in the Rain.” Her agile scatting and expressive articulation, together with Clearfield’s bluesy chords, underscore the piece’s thrilling spontaneity. Keeping with the theme of precipitation, “Here’s that Rainy Day” is a passionate duet that matches Beukelman’s rich and moving vocals with bassist Patrick Mulcahy’s lyrical improvisation. This Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke classic is one of the most intimate moments on the recording.
Beukelman interacts with her sidemen with ease and grace. On her rendition of Fain and Webster’s “Secret Love,” she and Deitemyer start things with an uptempo, percolating exchange. Both Clearfield and Mulcahy take short, yet elegant, solos before a seamless return to the head. Beukelman delivers the concluding bars with charming whimsy and joy.
Golden Daffodil is an enjoyable release that engages with the variety of its material and captivates with its charismatic mix of emotion and wit. Beukelman deftly walks the fine line between spirited and coquettish, and her work is pleasingly sentimental without drifting into a saccharine territory.