Composers: Warren; Herbie Hancock; Washington; Tom Lellis; Oscar Hammerstein II; Richard Rodgers.
Personnel: Tom Lellis (vocals, piano, electric piano, chimes, wind chime); Allen Farnham (piano); Eddie Gomez (acoustic bass, electric bass); Jack DeJohnette (drums, snare drum).
Recording information: New York, NY.
Tom Lellis decided to call this 1991 release Double Entendre because the CD marked many "doubles." It was his second album, it marked the second time he was backed by bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette, and it found him doubling as a stand-up singer and a sit-down singer/pianist. Lellis provides acoustic piano or electric piano on most of the material, although Allen Farnham takes over the piano duties on a few tunes. In a sense, it's regrettable that Double Entendre is Lellis' second album -- by 1991 (when he turned 45), the singer should have built a large catalog. But unfortunately, many jazz labels had overlooked Lellis when they should have been waging an all-out bidding war. This sophomore album not only makes good on the promise of Lellis' first album, And in This Corner, it finds him becoming even more confident and assured but no less risk-taking. Lellis really soars on Bronislaw Kaper's haunting "Invitation," but much to his credit, the Cleveland native doesn't devote all of his time to well-known lyrics. He also provides memorable lyrics for Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" and Chick Corea's "Times Lie," both of which have usually been heard as instrumentals. And four of the tunes are Lellis originals, including the laid-back "L.A. Nights," the moody "Eerie Autumn," and the very sociopolitical, pro-feminist "E.R.A." (which slams those who had opposed the Equal Rights Amendment in the '80s). Lellis doesn't write a lot of political lyrics -- he is usually more concerned with romantic or spiritual matters -- but "E.R.A." is something that he obviously needed to get off his chest. All of Lellis' albums are worth owning, but Double Entendre is arguably his best, most essential release. ~ Alex Henderson