Female vocalists often incite bickering in the world of jazz. To compare one singer to another will draw nothing but smirks or scoffs from those dedicated to their own divas. However, for those interested in lovely singing, Carolyn Leonhart’s Japan dates this month should be welcome relief. As a relative newcomer to the jazz vocal stage, she falls into no particular camp. Instead, she performs with a direct approach that crackles with freshness and enthusiasm.

Leonhart’s one U.S. release, “Steal the Moon,” and recordings on smaller labels in Japan, all reveal her dedication to melody. Unburdened by a need to astound or be overly hip, and accompanied by a back-to-basics piano trio, she sings traditional tunes with ease. Many singers try to impress with pyrotechnics, great backing or forced sophistication, but Leonhart conveys a heartfelt honesty that envelops the melody with warmth.

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