Three of Lea's albums on two CDs! First, A Woman In Love, a beautiful early album from vocalist Barbara Lea – her only session for Riverside, and a date that's a bit leaner lighter than some of her albums for Prestige! The group on here is totally great – the Billy Taylor Trio with bassist Earl May and drummer Percy Brice – augmented by guitarist Jimmy Shirley and trumpeter Johnny Windhurst, the latter of whom slides in some well-placed lines that really keep things fresh, and help push the album away from the usual territory of a vocal-plus-trio album. Lea's approach to the tunes is a bit like that of another Lee – Lee Wiley
– but in a way that strips things down a bit more, and gives the traditional numbers a slightly more modern inflection. Titles include "Love Me", "As Long As I Live", "Come Rain Or Come Shine", "A Woman Alone With The Blues", "I Didn't Know About You", and "Thinking Of You". CD features 2 bonus tracks – "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" and "I'll Bet You A Kiss". Second, Barbara Lea, a session with a slightly unusual feel – in that it's not really torchy, but also not as outrightly swinging either – and part of that feel might have to do with the backings, which are by 2 different small groups led by trumpeter Johnny Windhurst, who swings things along on the record, but never in a way that's too over the top. Barbara herself has a style that's expressive, but not overly emotive – a bit like Lee Wiley
or some of her contemporaries, but slightly "cooler" at points. Titles include "I've Got A Pocket Full Of Dreams", "I Had Myself A True Love", "Baltimore Oriole", "Blue Skies", "My Honey's Loving Arms", and "Nobody Else But Me". Last is Lea/
In Love, a really dark little album of vocal jazz – recorded here with small combo backing, and a strange sound that's a fair bit different than most other efforts of this type from the time! At one level, there's definitely a leaner 50s vocal jazz approach going on – similar to work on Bethlehem – but Barbara also serves things up with some odd notes of nostalgia and sentimentality, echoing earlier eras not in the style of the music, but almost in a sense of sadness and wistfulness that comes through in her vocals. The style's quite a change from the iciness of other postwar chanteuses – but it's also not as overly emotional as those from other eras either. Players in the groups include Dick Cary on piano, Jimmy Raney on guitar, Johnny Windhurst on trumpet, and Jimmy Lyons on piano. Titles include "Will I Find My Love Today?", "Sleep Peaceful Mr Used To Be", "Am I In Love", "Autumn Leaves", "We Could Make Such Beautiful Music Together", and "More Than You Know".