"It's a brave man who opens up an album (Southern Exposure) with the Bobby Darin classic "Beyond the Sea", but vocalist Lellis carries it off with some aplomb. Tom Lellis has it all going for him."
Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, Tom Lellis would seemingly enjoy a career-based, upward spiral with the advent of this winning production. He garners compassionate assistance from the likes of pianists Dave Kikoski, Kenny Werner, guitarist Toninho Horta and others. And with these, Brazilian-jazz oriented pieces; Lellis rides the crest of a wave!
Sure enough, Lellis is clearly the star here, via his rather hip stylizations, marked by variances in pitch, intonation, and an unhurried but deterministic vocal style.
Many of these tunes might elicit notions of a Brazilian surfside festivity, amid upbeat ensemble work and breezy choruses. Lellis is a distinctive jazz crooner, whereas, his near effortless delivery can be deceiving. He masterfully phrases lyricism into emotive flavors, often providing the listener with a taste of paradise. No doubt, when I grow up, I'd like to sing just like Tom Lellis. (Feverishly recommended)
Adventure has released the irresistible vocalist and pianist Tom Lellis’s Southern Exposure - a vespers to love. “Luisa”, a Toninho Horta and Lellis composition, features guitarist Horta and pianist Dave Kikoski’s tidy and lovely interchanges, a supple trio of back-up glittering mermaiding vocals and Lellis gorgeously phrasing the sense of wonderment in the lyrics. Lellis and Horta also pair up for a closing duo in Jobim’s “Falando de Amor/Tema de Amor” sung accent less by Lellis, who manages to reproduce himself vocally in Portuguese, without losing phrasing, intonation, technique or feel. Horta ’s accompanying is beautifully toned and placed. Lellis funks up his Portuguese singing in a samba titled “Obi” where Kenny Werner stands out with driving strength and block chords, matched by Romero Lubambo on guitar.
Hermeto Pascoal and Airto Morerira’s “Mixing/Tomba in 7/4 is energetically interpreted by Werner and Lubambo with percussive intensity and punchy unison vocal effects from Lellis and Roseanna Vitro.
“Bridges” is a crooner’s creamy and dreamy balladistic delight - on “bridges made out of love”.
Tom Lellis is omni-talented. He sings, writes music and lyrics, plays guitar, piano and keyboards, all of it with class and taste. But Lellis has something more than talent: he has honesty. There's no trace of jive or cynicism in his music, which is soulful, intimate and full of heart. this CD is a rare gem: consistently enjoyable, superbly played, it's a must-have for fans of Brazilian jazz and those who are weary of hype and flash.
All Music Guide
Tom delivers the ballads as well as the fast stuff with strength and dynamics. If you are a fan of Brazilian jazz this CD deserves a spot in your collection."
Singer Magazine, 11/04