There’s a new resurgence in live music as Minnesota continues to loosen and let go of covid regulations. Last night on The Belvedere stage at Crooners, Leslie Vincent set some warm, authentic reminders of the beauty of collaboration and the joy of performing. The sold out crowd witnessed a diversity of songs from jazz standards to 70’s mashups, to original duets.
Walking onto stage and jumping into “Do It Again”, Leslie energized the crowd. Pausing to acknowledge that this was the most people she’s seen in a long time, Leslie then performed her title track from These Foolish Things, released during the the first month of the shutdown. The gentle swing and softness of the song fit perfectly with her voice.
We then got the first taste of collaboration with Leslie inviting Max Wajtanowicz on stage. Performing a Tony Bennett / Amy Winehouse cover “Body and Soul”, Leslie equated Max’s voice to a warm cookie. It was a spot on analogy as the duo melted together. Their performance brought some humor into the evening as well with talks of sexual tension.
Emily Dussault also joined the band for two songs. The Champagne Drops duo covered their title track “Side by Side” with beaming smiles and an obvious friendship that shines. They then performed an original they wrote based on a letter and request from a friend. Grabbing a ukulele and apologizing to anyone that hates the uke, they dove into “Lily of the Valley”. The blend of Leslie’s sassier higher tones and Emily’s warmer vocals compliment each other well.
Sharing the importance of a younger generation to get into jazz, Leslie referred the audience to the acclaimed young vocalist Veronica Swift. Blasting into “The Sports Page”, the edgier song brought the band to a new level. The drive and deeper toned tune electrified the audience as Leslie was clearly in heaven surrounded by the music. Charged and busy, the song ended in a crescendo of applause.
“That’s jazz. That’s effin jazz,” Leslie candidly expressed.
The second half of the show started with a rendition of “Stars Fell on Alabama”. The slower song gave the audience a clear showcase of Leslie’s voice and chops. The cadence and jive of her voice is so inviting and easy to connect to. There’s an underlying joy of being on stage, singing, and living out a passion that humanizes Leslie. If there’s one thing we can all relate to on coming out of a pandemic, it’s the ability to find our passions.
Adding in a singalong to Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and a mashup of Hall and Oates “Rich Girl” / Steely Dan’s “Dirty Work” with Kate Beahen opens up the door to people that maybe aren’t into jazz as much. It’s a beautiful way to engage and introduce someone into a more jazzy way of appreciating music. Leslie builds that bridge easily, as her audience hits on all age groups.
As the set neared the close, Leslie announced the last song “Rhode Island is Famous for You.” She eloquently set expectations on what would happen after the song was over.
“I’m not cool enough for an encore. Not yet. I’ll know when I’m there,” shared Leslie.
Ending a strong performance that had everyone smiling, the audience leapt up in applause, chanting encore. With tears in her eyes, Leslie thanked the band, Crooner’s, and the sold out crowd. Clearly she’s much closer to needing to do an encore than she thought.