Composer and vocalist Leah Randazzo, 24, is a naturally gifted performer of uncommon charisma who knows how to bring an audience to its feet with her powerful voice and high-energy stage performance. Her original songs, described as jazz-infused R&B and funk, are sophisticated and soulful compositions that belie her young age. Leah's stunning debut album "At the Root," produced by Michael Gregory, has been acclaimed for having a sound that doesn't pigeonhole itself stylistically; musically it's as dynamic and fluid as Randazzo's voice.
The Leah Randazzo Group, a septet that includes vocals, rhythm section, and horns, formed in the spring of 2005 and has been touring nationally since. The Leah Randazzo Group was recently named "Best Jazz" for the second year in a row in western Massachusetts and the Pioneer Valley (Valley Advocate). Additionally, the group was honored with the grand prize for music in September 2007 on OurStage.com and received a nomination for "Oustanding Jazz Act" in the 2007 Boston Music Awards. "At their most boisterous - as on the brash "My Weapon" - the band's songs are highly danceable and colored with punchy horn lines. At their most sensitive - as on the piano and string-laced Morning Song - they blow the work of Starbucks divas like Norah Jones out of the water." (Nick R. Scalia, Play Magazine)
Leah Randazzo- vocals, Andy Taylor- guitar, David Picchi- bass, Justin Annis- drums, Andy Smicker- trumpet, Jon Bean- tenor sax, Paul Olesuk- trombone.
"At the Root," 2006.
A Spice All Its Own: The Leah Randazzo Group blend jazz and soul perfectly
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By: Shea Carver As of late it seems music has taken a more soulful turn in the realm of rhythm an...By: Shea Carver
As of late it seems music has taken a more soulful turn in the realm of rhythm and blues, hip-hop, pop and jazz. With contributors like Amy Winehouse, Gnarls Barkley, Joss Stone and Alicia Keys, long live the soul train of sounds that once came from Aretha Franklin, The Staple Singers, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers and others.
There seems to be as much soul circa 2007 as the foundation of Motown had in the ‘50s—OK, maybe that’s pushing it. Still, the younger generations are digging deep within to conjure up sounds of pure moxie. Just listen to the pipes of Leah Randazzo for proof. The North Hampton darling can roar through jazz numbers with a voice that’s as mind-blowing as a wind tunnel’s force. Randazzo skats and spats with charismatic enunciation, cooing and purring over her words with the seduction of a sex-kitten. After visualizing her innocent youth, it seems she’s barely even legal to be a teenage heartbreaker, much less a jazz vocalist. But her voice is seasoned beyond her mere 23 years of life, peppered with a spice all its own.
The Leah Randazzo Group has been touring in support of their ‘06 release, At the Root, a 10-song disc filled with grooves of smooth distinction and funked-up variety. Each track is planted in the effortless soprano- and falsetto-laden notes Randazoo sings, all of which can be soft and sweet, or bucked-up and pumped out with an unparalelled verocity. The band backing her—a septet that includes a rhythm section, as well as horns—plays a combination of R&B and funk, yet the underlying genre that strings through every inch of composition is most certainly the flippant and romantic timbres of jazz.
While the genre may be often overlooked, the jazz of this group is beyond amateur stylings and should be anything but ignored. Together they create an energetic sound that has a language of its own. From the moody guitar licks that creep and crawl on “Passes Me By,” to the strong cadences and rhythms of “All I Need Is You”—a song with sprawling horn bellows that seem to prowl—the music is an amalgamation of style. But the zeal with which it’s played is full of vitality. Altogether, it also maintains an airiness and light-hearted vibe that hugs listeners with every pitch.
It would be easy to compare Randazzo to someone like Diana Krall; yet, such an allegory is unfair. The fact is: Randazzo has more umph behind her lyrics. Yet she manages to maintain an air of mystique that is most definitely captivating to hear.
On her slower tunes, brandy snifters and clove cigarettes are a must—it’s music to be enjoyed in a seedy, small jazz bar. Since Wilmington doesn’t necessarily have such—even though so many of us wish for one—the grassroot efforts of the intimate Juggling Gypsy will play home to The Leah Randazzo Group on Monday, July 23rd. Admission is practically free—a mere $4. Don’t miss the soulstress and her band, who all prove that jazz and its accompanying genres are far from dead. In fact, it’s alive and reaching its zenith when they’re onstage.
Leah Randazzo- At the Root- Review
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Leah Randazzo At The Root (self-released) Thursday, June 28, 2007 by Casey Hayman Looking at...Leah Randazzo
At The Root (self-released)
Thursday, June 28, 2007
by Casey Hayman
Looking at the cover of Leah Randazzo's At the Root, which pictures the petite Randazzo looking not a day over 17, I readied myself for some timid girl pop, or perhaps even some timid girl folk. But don't let her youthful visage deceive you. Leah Randazzo has a mature songwriting sensibility and the voice to back it up, as I discovered when the deep funk groove of "My Weapon" dropped and Randazzo began delivering lines like, "I got myself some bullets, and I got myself a gun/But I don't need to use it, my voice will make you run."
Her voice is indeed a potent weapon, equal parts jazz, blues and soul, and Randazzo has the chops to hang with upper-echelon singers in any of these genres. Her backing band is equally versatile, moving effortlessly between bombastic funk and self-assured jazz, refraining from overplaying and allowing Randazzo's voice to shine.
Adding to the album's appeal is the crisp and tasteful production of Michael Gregory. One of my favorite moments comes during the opening of "All I Need In You," when the instruments are mixed to sound like a dusty loop from an old funk LP before bursting into full, live sound. Another highlight is the album's sugary sweet closer, "Morning Song," which finds Randazzo's parents accompanying her on violin and cello.
It's not easy to be smooth when you're going against the grain, but Leah Randazzo somehow pulls it off.
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It's not easy to be smooth when you're going against the grain, but Leah Randazzo somehow pulls it ... It's not easy to be smooth when you're going against the grain, but Leah Randazzo somehow pulls it off.
- Nick R. Scalia, Play Magazine
The Amherst, Mass-based vocalist and composer, who just completed her first album with the Leah Randazzo Group, isn't shy about her music's strong, insistent jazz influences - and while that may not be the most fashionable thing in music right now, her powerful vocal delivery and funky, energetic compositions make one wonder why it isn't.
"I think that everybody who's involved in music struggles with figuring out what their place is and what their market is, if they have one," says 21-year-old Randazzo, who credits her violinist father's musical tastes as a big influence on her own. Of her new record, titled At the Root, she says, "It was just me needing to represent myself totally, fully and honestly, without trying to do anything that I felt would compromise my artistic integrity."
What that means to the listener is a sound that doesn't pigeonhole itself stylistically; musically, it's as dynamic and fluid as Randazzo's voice. Along with her five-piece band - guitarist Andy Taylor, bassist David Picci, drummer Justin Annis, and the horn section of Matt Stevenson on trumpet and Joe Mayo on tenor sax - she's put together a disc that works very well as a jazz record, though it's poppy and engaging enough to have much wider appeal.
Songs like Higher, Photograph, and All I Need In You show off a sexy, modern R&B side and a tendency toward agile, funk-tinged guitars, but there's also a more subdued, slinky, traditional jazz vibe to songs like the Fever-esque Passes Me By. At their most boisterous - as on the brash, brassy opener My Weapon — the band's songs are highly danceable and colored with punchy horn lines. At their most sensitive - as on the piano- and string-laced closer Morning Song - they blow the work of Starbucks jazz divas like Norah Jones out of the water.
Randazzo, who estimates that she's been writing songs for about seven years now, is usually responsible for the initial compositions - songs, she says, that are drawn from all over the musical spectrum. "I listen to a lot of people like Stevie Wonder and Al Green and Aretha Franklin," she says, enthusiastically rattling off a list of her biggest songwriting and performance influences. "... Joni Mitchell, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Fiona Apple — people that are kind of melding together really modern sounds, sort of influenced by jazz harmony. I think that accounts for a lot of the variety."
What's also helped, she says, is having a full band behind her to fill in the details of the compositions and beef up the sound. The current ensemble came together "sort of by chance," she says, when Randazzo was selected as a local opening act for a show by folksinger Judy Collins. Looking to assemble a combo to back her up for the gig, she met Taylor through a mutual friend at a jazz standards gigs, and the rest of the band came together there.
Now that they're officially a band, Randazzo says she's so enamored with performing other musicians, it's almost completely changed her mind about going it alone. "I'm just really into the band aspect of it, I really like having a lot of sound and lot of instruments," she says. "I very, very rarely play solo — I actually prefer to not even play piano while I'm performing, I try to focus on the vocals and the kind of stage stuff that I can do separately."
She'll have plenty of time for that on the self-booked tour that takes the band through the New Haven area and on down the East Coast. The road gigs will also give her the chance, she says, to see exactly what her demographic is - so far, the crowds that the band has drawn have been so diverse, it's been hard to tell.
"It's a really big mix at this point, and I'm curious to go on the road and see if I can make any sort of sense of it," Randazzo says. "People can be attracted to the music for a lot of reasons. We get a lot of college students, and people that are into the original compositions or the vocal aspect of it — I think a lot of musicians and instrumentalists can really be into it. And a decent amount of older people, too...we end up with a lot of adults who are, like, totally digging it."
With that in mind, it's easy to think that doing the jazz thing might actually be pretty fashionable, after all.
Front Row Girl's Archive: Leah Randazzo - At the Root
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By Bambi Weavil Leah Randazzo is a fresh young artist, with a joyful sound spray-painting the mus...By Bambi Weavil
Leah Randazzo is a fresh young artist, with a joyful sound spray-painting the musical canvas with funk, soul and jazz. Her voice is contemporary, having been compared to artists like Fiona Apple and Norah Jones, but she also has a touch of someone who could have been played in the 1950s and soared. Her debut album, At the Root, is the perfect thing to listen while unwinding in the evening with your favorite adult beverage. What I love about Leah's style is it doesn't feel forced—you can feel her love for mixing different genres. Truthfully, the girl could sing any style she wanted and stick with it, but she's creating something that she can call her own.
"Kick it up and let's see what we see," from her sexy track "Passes Me By", is a perfect way to describe the album as a whole. "Higher" has such remixing possibilities and really shows off her range. Another strong track is "Photograph", which is very powerful and a can't-miss track that should impress the casual jazz listener. "My Weapon" kicks off the album with the lyrics: "I got myself some bullets, and I got myself a gun/But I don't need to use it, my voice will make you run."
Leah's every bit of a confident, gifted, true lyricist, and by the way, she's beautiful. I'm waiting for the right big name record label to take this 23-year-old talent on because she could go very far in the jazz market. If you're looking for a jazz album and a artist that sings it like she means it, get this one.
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By Aaron Jentzen Like blues singers, soul singers often improve with age. (Maybe it's just that c...By Aaron Jentzen
Like blues singers, soul singers often improve with age. (Maybe it's just that cigarettes, whisky and woe have cumulative musical influence.) In that case, 23-year-old singer and keyboardist Leah Randazzo is off to a great start — with the singing, I mean. Oh, and the band: Backed by a jazz-inflected, horn-heavy septet, Randazzo barrels through earthy R&B and funk on her debut, At the Root. While she's not quite in step with the trendy neo-soul genre, both her voice and her band are probably a bit too big for that pigeonhole anyway.
Leah Randazzo's Jazzy Funk
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A year ago you might have heard this about Grace Potter: "She's a sultry, charismatic 22-year-old bi...A year ago you might have heard this about Grace Potter: "She's a sultry, charismatic 22-year-old big-voiced singer and keyboard player from small-town New England whose music is powered by heavy doses of jazz and rhythm-and-blues."
That doesn't apply to Waitsfield's most famous musician because A) Grace Potter is now 23 and, B) her music with her band, the Nocturnals, has veered more and more toward full-out rock 'n' roll. That description does, however, apply to Leah Randazzo, who's from Amherst, Mass., and plays regularly in Burlington (she'll do so again with her group Saturday at Red Square).
Randazzo's music is based in jazz, lathered with layers of frothy funk. Local club-goers unfamiliar with her work might try to imagine a merger of the Jennifer Hartswick Trio and the Grippo Funk Band to get an idea of where Randazzo's music will take them. Her new album, "At the Root," pulls on your dancing shoes for you with the fluid mid-tempo groove of "All I Need In You," then stops you dead in your tracks with the turn-the-lights-out jazz ballad "Turns to Grey." If you go: Leah Randazzo Group, 9 p.m. Saturday, Red Square, Burlington. $3. 859-8909, www.redsquarevt.com.
Music in Her Genes
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Thursday, June 07 By Dave Madeloni When Leah Randazzo was 8, she was chanting "A Love Supreme" a...Thursday, June 07
By Dave Madeloni
When Leah Randazzo was 8, she was chanting "A Love Supreme" along with John Coltrane, trying her best to impress mom and dad. She may have inherited her musical performer genes from both parents.
"Yes, I did grow up in a very musical family," recalled the sassy soul/jazz singer who will be performing this Friday at PACE in Easthampton. "My father was bass/piano/fiddle player with Jonathan Edwards. They toured for many years together and still play together from time to time. My mother is a classical cellist."
In fact, Leah and her father recently found themselves simultaneously touring in completely different necks of the woods.
"We had a few amusing phone conversations while we were both in our respective 'green rooms' before each of our gigs across the country from one another — he in Texas, me in Burlington, Vt."
In her formative years, Randazzo acquired a taste for a variety of musical genres.
"Because of growing up in a rich musical household, I was exposed to many different kinds of music that have subsequently influenced my writing and sense of my musical self. My father listened to a lot of jazz and soul music, and those influences
were the most prominent in my development. My childhood soundtrack included everything from Stevie Wonder to Eric Dolphy to Joni Mitchell."
Even though she was raised by two music pros, it wasn't until Randazzo turned 18 that she decided to dive into the uncertain waters of the music biz. "It was at that time that I really began to develop my piano and voice skills, and most importantly my skills in composition. Although I enjoy doing cover tunes at gigs, my own voice and strength is my original writing.
"I feel a sense of uniqueness and individuality that only comes out when performing my own songs. For me it is a really fun process to experience the before and after of music making. ... I enjoy making it happen!"
Randazzo particularly enjoys making it happen with her six-piece band.
"I love the textures and nuances and hardcore musicianship they bring to the music. We have also really developed a lot as a group over the past year and are constantly challenging each other to take it to the next level."
The PACE gig will be a welcome change of pace for the band, who usually perform in more boisterous settings. "Generally, a lot of the gigs we play are in bars and night clubs," said Randazzo. "While these locations are fabulous for a late night, high-energy dance party — which I certainly love — playing at PACE can also be a real pleasure because it is really a listening room. It is a place where I can plan my set of music to tell a story that goes in a variety of directions, including soft, intimate moments as well as the more energetic, danceable ones."
» If you go ...
Who: The Leah Randazzo Group.
When: Tomorrow at 8 p.m.
Where: PACE, Pioneer Arts Center of Easthampton, 41 Union Street, Easthampton.
For reservations: Call (413) 527-3700 or visit www.pioneerarts.org.
Jazz-inspired pop, with horn section
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By Erica Febre email@example.com Seven musicians on any stage at the same time tends to lead ...By Erica Febre firstname.lastname@example.org
Seven musicians on any stage at the same time tends to lead to an eclectic joining of influences, especially when they’re presenting jazz-oriented music. The Leah Randazzo Group, from Northampton, Mass., is a soulful pop and jazz creation headed by Randazzo.
“I’ve always been interested in pursuing the jazz-oriented route because it’s sort of what I’m drawn to and what I enjoy listening to myself. Although I certainly listen to a lot of different things, jazz just seems to come more naturally to me,” Randazzo said.
The Leah Randazzo Group is Randazzo taking lead vocals, Andy Taylor on guitar, David Picchi on bass, and Justin Annis on drums. The horn section is represented by Joe Mayo on tenor sax, Andrew Smicker on trumpet, and Jared Johnson on trombone.
Starting their musical endeavors without a horn section, the other members of the group convinced Randazzo that adding horns was the way to achieve that full jazz sound.
“It’s just sort of turned into this whole three-part horn section, along with the rhythm section, which is really nice. It’s got a big and full sound. You can get some really interesting arrangements when you’re working with that many instruments. It really gets some textures going,” Randazzo said.
The forming of this group has some texture to it as well. Randazzo had an opportunity to open for Judy Collins but she didn’t have a full band. So to get the gig, she needed to get a band.
“I’m not really musically compatible to [Judy Collins] but that’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of. There were at least a couple of thousand people there,” Randazzo said.
The Leah Randazzo group formed in spring of 2005, adding the horn section only less than a year ago. Their debut release, At the Root, came out in summer of 2006. Currently they play mostly original material, with a few scattered covers, such as Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Erykah Badu and Fiona Apple.
“I wouldn’t just classify the music as being jazz ... the fact that it’s influenced by jazz harmonies makes it different. A lot of these songs also have a hook that could be, in terms of song form, more pop-oriented,” Randazzo said.
Randazzo has a voice that’s suprisingly big and full for such a small-framed diva, very similar to Fiona Apple. Randazzo writes the majority of the original material, including instrumental compositions, but she gives just as much credit to other members.
Ourstage.com winners for Best Jazz and Blues, May 2007.
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Leah Randazzo Group are winners of "Best Jazz and Blues" in online competition through fan site www....Leah Randazzo Group are winners of "Best Jazz and Blues" in online competition through fan site www.ourstage.com, May 2007.
Leah Randazzo Group Wins Grand Band Slam
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The Leah Randazzo Group are winners for "Best Jazz" in the Valley Advocate's 2006 Grand Band Slam re...The Leah Randazzo Group are winners for "Best Jazz" in the Valley Advocate's 2006 Grand Band Slam readers' poll.
Our typical set list can range from 1 hr to 1.5 hrs of strictly orginal material, or 1-3 hrs of original material plus cover tunes.
Originals compositions (Leah Randazzo)
1. My Weapon
2. All I Need in You
3. Passes Me By
5. Turns To Grey
6. The Sweetness
8. Waiting For Alex
9. Ain't It Funny
10. Morning Song
11. Lesser of Two
12. Now and Only
14. Let Me Kow
15. I'll Try
Sample Cover tunes:
1. Can't Hide Love (Earth, Wind, and Fire)
2. If You Really Love Me (Stevie Wonder)
3. I Wish (Stevie Wonder)
4. All Night Long (Mary Jane Girls)
5. Until You Come Back To Me (Aretha Franklin)
6. Let's Stay Together (Al Green)
7. Tyrone (Erykah Badu)
8. If It Were Left Up To Me (Sly and the Family Stone)
Sample Jazz Standards:
1. Beautiful Love
2. Round Midnight
3. Gentle Rain
4. Alone Together
5. I'm Beginning To See The Light
6. Night In Tunisia
There are no upcoming dates at this time.