"On her second CD, classically trained New York flutist Jan Leder displays potent jazz feeling and an instinctive knack for writing fetching originals (some with lyrics) that elicit the best from her musicians. Pianist Jon Davis, guitarist Mark McCarron, bassist Sean Smith, drummer Art Lillard, three guest vocalists and a percussionist rise superbly to collective and individual challenges. Leder's style is natural, loose and flowing and her all-embracing musical approach radiates throughout this appealing mixture of 10 Latin, blues, swing, bop and other tunes." Nancy Ann Lee, JazzTimes Magazine, September 2000
"If you were a jazz flutist, how would you follow up a great instrumental recording debut? How about with a CD that showcases your talents as a lyricist? That is exactly what Jan Leder has done on her second release as a leader, intriguingly entitled Nonchalant. If Jan Leder's debut CD, Passage to Freedom, served as her recording debut as a jazz flutist and leader, her second CD, Nonchalant, it seems to me, is the unveiling of her overall musical voice. I'm always intrigued when an artist takes his or her art in a new direction. That Jan Leder has chosen to do this already on her second recording is impressive. The result is a great CD from beginning to end.
Leder opens Nonchalant with an absolutely exultant rendering of Stevie Wonder's tune 'Bird of Beauty.' On this tune, Leder, guitarist Mark McCarron, and pianist Jon Davis all take flight, as percussionist Daniel Moreno (listen for the gong and the bells) subtly adds the perfect finishing touches. I think that if Stevie Wonder ever gets a chance to hear this, he will be very pleased!
But absolutely everyone on this CD is excellent, and vocalists Angela DeNiro, Mary Foster-Conklin and Cleve Douglass all deliver great performances. For me, it's the title track, 'Nonchalant,' and the closing track, 'Conclusion Jump,' both written by drummer Art Lillard and with lyrics by Leder that really steal the show. Both tunes really swing and Leder's engaging lyrics are delivered to toe-tapping perfection by the wonderful Manhattan Transfer-esque voice of Angela DeNiro and the consummately expressive, fully-of-moxy voice of Mary Foster-Conklin. Nonchalant is a radio hit waiting to happen: if you're anything like me, you'll be whistling and singing it after just one listen!
It seems to me that Leder's continuing avian theme (e.g. 'Bird of Beauty') is a metaphor for the spirit in which she plays. I am certain this is the reason I always find myself with a broad, subconscious smile on my face when I listen to it. My first reaction was to wish that Leder and her flute were even more prominent throughout the album, but now after many listens, I have to say that one of the most impressive things about Nonchalant is how effectively Jan Leder expresses her own wide-ranging musical voice, while at the same time showcasing her incredibly talented musical collaborators so well. That, in my opinion, is a leader - and this is one fantastic CD, which I give my most enthusiastic possible recommendation!" Lois RoeJazz Exodus
"'Friends' is a less well known Chick Corea recording from the 70s. This obscurity probably has to do with the silly cover, but also the refined performance by flutist Joe Farrell must have made most of the die-hard Return To Forever fans reluctant. Just like Corea, flutist Jan Leder also moves within the risky area of what may seem to the superficial listener rather smooth "Latin-flavored ballads". Furthermore she also writes charming, authentic sounding songs. Nonchalant gives you the impression of thorough preparation. Tasteful solos and well picked vocalists are an excellent addition to Leder's well-groomed playing. Her composition 'Survival of the Flutist' refers to the negligence of the jazz flute and at the same time shows how wrong this neglect actually is. Leder isn't as earth-shaking as Dolphy, nor as chique as James Newton, but the way she presents her somewhat anachronistic repertoire deserves respect. Marten de Haan, Nu Jazz (Holland)
"Nonchalant is Jan Leder's second album as leader (the first was released by the now defunct Monad Records in 1995). The title aptly describes this session -- relaxed and tasteful, featuring a varied playlist comprised mostly of Leder originals. The session kicks off with a seven-plus-minute exploration of Stevie Wonder's 'Bird of Beauty.' More often than not, crossover material is put on jazz albums to encourage radio play. This is not the case here, as Wonder's tune is given a very jazzy treatment. Leder's compositional skills are formidable, not constrained by a narrow stylistic approach. The cleverly worded 'Inbetween the Streets' features a Latin beat behind Cleve Douglass' vocal. The very good Angela DeNiro takes on 'Little Boy' as a ballad, done in a medium tempo, with purposeful lyrics; Leder's flute and Mark McCarron's guitar are prominent on this cut. The bossa nova 'Survival of the Flutist' is a vehicle for Leder's flute, again with McCarron's guitar very evident. 'Bebop Papi' is straight out of the pre-avant-garde flute style of Eric Dolphy. John Lewis' 'Afternoon in Paris' recalls Milt Jackson's recorded version, with Leder's flute playing Jackson's vibes. The session ends, appropriately, with Leder's 'Conclusion Jump,' a freewheeling, upbeat piece featuring Mary Foster Conklin on vocals. Leder has gathered a sterling cast of musicians for this session. In addition to the vocal contributions of DeNiro, Conklin, and the Nat King Cole-like voice of Cleve Douglass, the combined rhythm of Jon Davis, Art Lillard, and Sean Smith keeps a steady, strong beat. There is nothing heavy on this album, which makes it a fun time for the performers and the listeners." Dave Nathan, All Music Guide
On Live Performance
"Saturday's show featured sterling performances by flutist Jan Leder, vocalist Angela Hagenbach, cellist and blues singer Akua Dixon, and was capped by a truly powerful performance by the Living Daylights Trio (led by saxophonic dynamo Jessica Lurie).
We were treated to a sublime set featuring superlative saxophony of Claire Daly and Virginia Mayhew, the poignant, soul-stirring percussion of drummer Sylvia Cuenca, and a second helping of flute finesse from Leder." Dan Kozak, Coleman Hawkins Festival
On Passage to Freedom
"The disc opens nicely with "Passage to Freedom". We get a chewy bass line from Yosuke Inoue, the drums tap a Latin pattern, and
then, amidst the moodiness - a flute. And not a chirping bird flute; Jan emphasizes the lower notes of her instrument, resulting in a
dark sound well suited to this somber track. Pianist Jon Davis responds with two-hand unison playing, and crashing chords
reminiscent of McCoy Tyner. Art Lillard's drumming sets a mood too: his part is all pounding tom-toms and clicking cymbals. It all
sets the table for that rare creature: a flute that doesn't sound happy. An intriguing beginning which makes you go further. That's art.
Jan's sound is brighter on "Shiny Stockings", and the depression fades away. Hers is an unusual flute sound, with little of the metallic
ring which marks a lot of flute playing. Her notes seem fuller, and somehow rounder, like the notes from a wooden flute. Her solo is
mid-tempo, again avoiding the cliché of trills. There's also a cute reference to "Kelly Blue", a 'Fifties number with prominent flute.
Yosuke Inoue has a deep woody bass sound, and has a nice solo. (Sadly, some of this is lost in the piano's comping, which is a bit
Davis opens "When Sunny Gets Blue" with a slow meditative intro, hinting Bill Evans in a few places. Then Jan steps in with the
theme, played with a pleasing vibrato. It's neat to hear her very her moods and her approach to the instrument; often flutists neglect
this. Davis then gets a beautiful solo, the first section using a three-note pattern, varied and repeated at breakneck speed. His solo
changes style four times, and recalls at least as many pianists. The audience appreciates his effort. Jan comes back with a pure sound
free of vibrato. She takes the theme home, and the applause goes on.
With Charlie Parker's "Ornithology" we get a swinger, and Jan plays the happy bird, sounding a little like Herbie Mann. Davis gets
slightly dissonant in a cascade of notes (I think I can hear the "Giant Steps" chords in there.) A deep solo from Lillard on tom-toms,
and Jan flies away with the theme.
The album's homestretch is interesting. A pretty version of "Bluesette" melts into "All Blues"; the theme of the latter is hinted
throughout but only stated at the end. The tempo change between the two tunes is artfully masked by a drum solo; Jan handles the
Miles tune with the deep tone we heard earlier. "El A Carioca" brings in guest artist Mark McCarron on guitar, and he pushes this
samba along as Jan gently plays, a little vibrato getting in. McCarron's solo is clean and liquid, getting some nice chording into
play. Inoue gets a nice solo, but this is McCarron's track. We end with "Yardbird Suite", another Charlie Parker composition; like
"Ornithology", Jan is bright and sunny on this. Davis' solo is juicy and full of chords. When Jan trades fours with Davis, her slow
gracious swing contrasts nicely with Davis' aggressive surge. The theme ties it up, and a strong album ends with a sweet finish.
The group shows a lot of interplay, and the leader shows us a very full bag of tricks, confident that her first album will not be her last.
The distributor is sold out; all I can suggest is to search your local store. If you can't find it, remember the name Jan Leder - I suspect
you will hear it again."
John Barrett, Jr., jazzreview.com
"If you check out only one new artist this year, make it Jan Leder. The demise of the label that produced Passage to Freedom has left it unavailable in stores. But don't let that deter
you. If you're not sure you like the sound of the flute in jazz, this CD
will almost certainly convince you; if you already enjoy jazz flute, you will
LOVE this CD. And not only is the flutist talented, so are all the
accompanists. I especially enjoy the playing of pianist Jon Davis. In short,
Jan Leder is my best artist discovery all year and Passage to Freedom is one
of my best CD purchases ever."
Lois Roe, amazon.com