When San Diego musician Lizzi Trumbore made her Jazz Live debut on July 21, her choice in sidemen could hardly have been more appropriate -- it’s certainly a coup to count guitarist Peter Sprague, vocalist Leonard Patton and bassist Justin Grinnell among your enthusiastic supporters. Trumbore -- whose swinging vocals nailed the opener, “I’m Gonna Lock My Heart,” with a fluid confidence beyond her years (Trumbore is a freshman at the world-famous University of North Texas) -- simply hit the gates running and never looked back.
Sprague’s bebop architecture and spidery fingerings proved to be a perfect foil for Trumbore, who took plenty of risks in her expansive reading of “Tea for Two,” which inspired Sprague to flirt along the edges of dissonance in his increasingly intricate chord-melody solo.
Patton mostly remained in a supportive role, playing brushes and contributing smoky tenor counterpart on “Our Walk,” a Trumbore original. The vocalist’s limber acuity was particularly amazing on the Jobim tune “O Pato,” where the complex harmonies seemed to fit her like a glove.
Especially gratifying was the series of duets that began with Sprague on the wistful Beatles classic “Here, There, and Everywhere,” continued with Grinnell on “The Waking,” where the duo took the bass/vocal concept to another level, and concluding with “Close Your Eyes,” where Patton’s eerie synthesizer vocalese and Trumbore’s deft counterpoint stirred an intoxicating cocktail.
There was a wild blues improvisation on “Country Road,” which also featured Trumbore’s earthy trombone (if she ever equals her vocal chops on the brass instrument -- make no mistake -- a star will have been born.)
Patton and Trumbore hit an unlikely home run with a fantastic reading of the Carpenters classic “Close to You,” full of soulful drama and genuine affection -- and surprisingly bereft of schmaltz, a perfect ending for her first Jazz Live performance.