At the age of 18, Allegra Levy is already a considerably more compelling performer than handfuls of Parky regulars. She sings a straight-ahead set of standards, smiling and scatting all the way. She is astonishingly confident, both in her person and in her mastery of the music and words.
Her band, all of them under 25, are all students or graduates of the New England Conservatory in Boston. Altoist Mark Zaleski manages to fit in a great deal of jokerish personality among his honed Bird and Cannonball licks. Some might be disappointed to hear such a young band playing in such a well-trodden style, but if standards are your thing, these guys are right on their game and play with enough edge to make you remember them.
There is perhaps no real heartache to be heard in Levys voice. She seems a happy girl with loving stable parents, and it would be churlish to expect her to have lived the blues like the teenage Billie Holiday. Yet on a song like Im a Fool to Want You, she shows she is not afraid to confront the meaning of the words. She will attack a line like to share a kiss the devil has known with a brave inquisitiveness, casting herself among the darkness.
The set ended with Too Close For Comfort, which culminated in a joyous kind of jump-jive, the snare banging 2 and 4 in celebration, and ending on the famous Basie 3-note sign-off, capping off an evening of sheer satisfaction.