June 7, 2007

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Jazz-inspired pop, with horn section
By Erica Febre efebre@hippopress.com

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.

Harlow’s Pub
This summer, Harlow’s Pub, located in the center of Peterborough, will offer an array of original artists. The Phil daRosa Band, taking the stage on, Friday, June 9, and the LeahRandazzo Group, taking the stage on Saturday, June 16, are just two of the featured artists this June.
Where: 3 School St., Peterborough
For more information: Go to harlowspub.com. For more details on the Leah Randazzo Group, go to myspace.com/leadrandazzogroup, or, for information on The Phil daRosa Band, go to phildarosa.com or myspace.com/phildarosa.

Shows at Harlow’s Pub for June:
Fri., June 8 The Pangeans
Sat., June 9 Ameranouche at 6 p.m.
Fri., June 9 The Phil daRosa Band
Fri., June 15 The Mystery Button
Sat., June 16 Lead Randazzo Group
Sat., June 16 Marcy Hill Bluegrass Band at 6 p.m.
Fri., June 22 Jah Spirit
Sat., June 23 Sol Driven Train
Fri, June 29 Peter Prince & Moon Boot Lover.