Lyricists: Tom Ellis; Johnny Mercer.
Personnel: Tom Lellis (vocals); Tom Ellis (vocals); Rob Langereis, Peter Tiehuis, Rob Langereis (guitar); Joke Schonewille, Rosetty de Ruiter-Verwoerdt (harp); Herman Van Haaren, Simone Vierstra, Wik Kok, Pauline Terlow, Noortie Koch, Lucja Domski, Elisabeth Cats, Denise Koenders, Arlia de Ruiter, Marianne Van Den Heuvel, Erica Korthals Altes, Denise Ruyters, Lucia Domski, David Peijnenborgh, Elisabeth Cats, Pauline Terlow, Simone Vierstra, Linda Dumessie, Wim Kok, Rami Koch, Marijn Rombout, Rami Koch, Ernö Olah (violin); Anne Marie V.D. Bogaard, Michael Klier, Mieke Honingh, Aimee Versloot, Michael Klier, Julia Jowett (viola); Olof Groesz, Hans Bonsel, Hans Bonsel, Wim Grin, Olaf Groesz, Bastiaan Van Der Werf (cello); Friederike Darius, Mariël V.D. Bos, Janine Abbass (flute); Willem Lujit, Martin De Ruiter, Willem Luijt (oboe); Marc Scholten (saxophone, alto saxophone); Leo Jenssen, Dick Vennik, Leo Van Oostrom, Max Boeree, Dick Vennik, Leo Van Oostrem (saxophone); Leo Janssen (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Ruud Breuls (trumpet, flugelhorn); Jan Hollander, Henk Heijink, Jan Oosthof (trumpet); Paul Woesthuis, Jan Elsink, Paul Woesthuis, Jan Elsink, Bart Van Lier (trombone); Martin V.D. Berg, Martin V.D. Berg (bass trombone); Wim Timmermans, Wim Timmermans, Roel Koster (horns); Cor Bakker, Hans Vroomans (piano, synthesizer); Cees Kranenburg, Arno van Nieuwenhuize, Cees Kranenburg (drums); Mike Schaperclaus, Herman Rieken, Eddy Koopman, Mike Schäperclaus, Herman Rieken (percussion).
Recording information: MCO Studios, Hilversum, Netherlands (02/01/1999-02/04/1999).
Photographer: Marie Lellis.
Arrangers: Chuck Owen; Williem Friede; Michael Abene.
Amazingly, this early-'00s CD is only Tom Lellis' fourth album; by that time, a jazz veteran as talented and expressive as Lellis should have had a much larger catalog. But then, the music world can be a mind-boggling, frustrating place, and talent isn't always rewarded the way it should be. Lellis sounds like he is making up for lost recording time on this ambitious disc, which finds him being backed by Holland's Metropole Orchestra (conducted by American jazzman John Clayton). Being an orchestral project, Skylark is more arranged than Lellis' small-group efforts. But the musicians still get in some meaningful solos, including trombonist Bart Van Lier and tenor saxophonist Leo Janssen. Of course, Lellis' vocals are the main attraction, and the singer really shines on a variety of material. Lellis, much to his credit, isn't the sort of jazz vocalist who is content to sing overdone Tin Pan Alley warhorses exclusively and do them the same old way -- he is much too ambitious for that type of knee-jerk approach. Lellis won't exclude a song just because it was written in the '30s or '40s, but unlike a lot of the derivative Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald wannabes who labels are so quick to record, he looks for great songs from the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. On this CD (which has been sold on the Metropole Orchestra's website), Lellis turns his attention to songs that range from Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark" to Chick Corea's "Straight Up and Down" (which he wrote lyrics for) to Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Falando de Amor." Brazilian music is a priority on this CD, and the singer revisits "Milton's Moment" (Lellis' ode to Brazilian great Milton Nascimento) and Toninho Horta's "Mountain Flight." Skylark is enthusiastically recommended to fans of post-bop vocal jazz. ~ Alex Henderson