During the late '60s, Leon Thomas was one of the few jazz singers to adapt well to the youthful revolution led by John Coltrane. Last night at the Pigfoot, Thomas combined yodels, whistles, scat syllables and reasonant singing to prove he is still an innovative vocalist.
The first set was led by Thomas' long-time associate, pianist Neal Creque, who proved an exceptional modal pianist. His right-hand forays were rainstorms of notes -- fluid in their progression and dense with pedal-thickened harmonies.
Pigfoot owner and WPFW announcer Bill Harris played a second set of solo acoustic guitar. He demonstrated his versatility by shifting easily from a flashy flamenco number to intricate jazz fills on "The Shadow of Your Smile" to a rural blues tune. Harris is a poor singer and allows unnecessary string noise but his stage charm, vivid poetry recitals and guitar-picking imagination compensate.
Thomas then took the stage to show off his considerable arsenal of vocal effects. On Horace Silver's "Song For My Father," Thomas' tone was so thick it created a dramatic, natural echo.
Thomas, Creque, Harris and the capable local rhythm section of bassist Dave Wondro and drummer Harry Saunders return to Pigfoot tonight.