In the song “The Cool School,” Michael Franks asks, “Am I dinosaur? Yeah you bet. I grew up listening to Mose and Chet [...] me I attended the Cool School.” In a few short lines he describes what many jazz fans today are feeling: he’s an insider, his influences are hip and classic, a member of a small club, the kind of club that is both impossible to join and to which everyone can belong.
For over 40 years Franks has been a classic practitioner of “cool” in America. Starting with his breakout album The Art of Tea in 1975, he has been playing with the edges between jazz and folk, samba and swing.
Born just a year after the release of that same album, multi-
Throughout his career, as a professional singer-
Hiding in plain sight is more or less de rigueur for Leo, whose music reflects that quiet cool Michael Franks wrote about. So maybe it was only a matter of time before he decided to bring his personal kind of freshness to the music of Michael Franks. Recorded in Brooklyn and in Paris, Cool School is a project that, like a well-
At it’s core there is simply the pure sound of Leo performing Michael’s elegant songs with his typical classic swing, relaxed groove, and rich interior vocal harmonies, a mood made possible by the fact that the songs were, by and large, recorded in his own studio in his own space where he spent a relaxed several weeks cutting the tracks by himself, playing drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, vibraphone and percussion, fashioning music that was at once both funky and personal. He then arranged horns for a small group of New York’s young luminaries (John Ellis, Michael Leonhart, Ryan Keberle) and took the evolving tracks to Paris where he added intimate duets with singers Leo Minax, Chrystel Wautier and Clementine. Then, finally, returning back to the States, he enlisted Michael Franks himself to join him on the gorgeous and little-
From it’s home-
“Vocally he suggests an amalgam of his father Ben with a hint of Donald Fagen. His fluid laidback style is reminiscent of Bob Dorough. Musically and lyrically his compositions are smart, sharp, and sparklingly original.”